When I requested a rose from Saint Thérèse, I felt a mix of doubt and hope. Was I relying too heavily on the saints instead of on God Himself?
By Lucy Coatman
19 May 2020
Tucked under the fresh duvet one evening, I spoke bluntly with St Thérèse. I asked her to send me a rose as a confirmation for something that had been weighing on my heart. Though I felt great hope, the doubting Thomas in me was, as ever, hovering in the background. Despite having received an actual rose from St Thérèse once before, I didn’t trust enough in the goodness of God and the friendship I have with my patron saint.
The next morning, I indulged in my bad habit of scrolling through social media after waking up. Immediately, photos of roses appeared on my Instagram timeline and the stories that I viewed. Must be a coincidence, I thought to myself, but the memory remained at the back of my mind. Going for a walk with my boyfriend a day later, he realised that something was in his coat pocket. What he pulled out took me completely aback – two photos of the Little Flower herself, one of which he gave to me. As if that wasn’t enough, walking up the stairs leading to my apartment the day after that, I found a single pink rose lying on a step.
I cannot describe the joy that I felt – the little saint who is so close to Jesus had listened to me! Carefully placing the rose in a book in order to preserve it, I began to ponder the power of receiving such a gift. I’m not the only person to have asked for a rose from the saint who claimed she would ‘let fall a shower’ of these flowers after her death. Just a quick google search will bring up thousands of testimonies from people who have asked for her intercession, even requesting specific rose colours to represent certain things. The stories one comes across are utterly heart warming. To see the saint keep true to her promise and know that she hasn’t forgotten her mission is a great reminder of what lies ahead of us when we too enter the heavenly kingdom.
What I did realise is that while receiving an actual rose is a wonderful thing, it is not the important part. That can be very difficult to remember. The Society of the Little Flower states that roses are “her way of whispering to those who need a sign that she has heard, and God is responding”. It’s vital to not get too caught up in the physical gift, but one should instead rejoice in the knowledge that God is with us.
I feel that my mission is about to begin – to make others love God as I love Him.St Thérèse of Lisieux in the final months of her life
Sometimes I worry that I rely too much on the saints. I honestly find them easier to relate to and understand than God. Admitting this is difficult, but I felt more excited to see the relics of St Thérèse when they visited Edinburgh than I ever do to receive the Eucharist. Then I wonder, is there a need for my great worry? Relationship with the saints brings us a bounty of graces. Not only that, but God understands our weaknesses, and the love of and friendship with the saints can only bring us closer to Him. Of course it feels easier to connect with someone who lived a little over a hundred years ago, someone who we have the privilege to see photographs of, and hear remembrances of. We should remember: honouring the saints serves to magnify the God who made them thus.
All the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others.Catechism of the Catholic Church
In learning from and imitating our friends within the communion of saints, we can develop our spiritual life (and in my case, the desire for the Eucharist). We should be comfortable with drawing inspiration from those in the presence of the Father. Not only this, but we see love of our neighbour on earth as something which brings us closer to the Lord, and loving those who are literally in His presence cannot fail to bring us into the tender arms of our Father. He is waiting for us to come to Him.
St Thérèse of Lisieux, please pray for us!
Lucy is a historian in training, currently pursuing an MLitt in Early Modern History. She holds an MA in Theological Studies from the University of St Andrews, where she converted to Catholicism in 2015. She is passionate about the mercy and goodness of God.