A saint is a person who is admirable in that, during his/her lifetime, he/she achieved a level of spirituality or holiness that surpassed the norm. The Catholic church has an official process for declaring someone a saint called Canonization. The saints, in summary, are formally acknowledged spiritual role models. In your life, I'm sure you can think of unsung heroes who have affected you deeply, but are not listed among the saints.
Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints, which means that the living and the dead are still linked together, despite physical separation.
"We are one body in Christ" writes St. Paul.
Acknowledging and admiring the deep faith of the saints, people ask these souls in prayer to pray for them in turn. If you believe in the power of prayer, then it makes total sense to ask the most spiritually strong people to pray with you. So, when people petition saints, they are not worshiping the saints over God; they are asking them for prayers. It's sort of like asking for references.
Imagine your petition goes before God, and down on the bottom it is also signed and approved by some of the most holy human beings who ever lived. That's pretty convincing. Many people who have asked saints for prayers, in needs both big and small, have received signs. Our society mocks the idea of signs from heaven, but they are real and if you have faith, you can see them within the day-to-day occurrences of ordinary time. "Seek and you shall find," the old proverb goes.
In past posts I have shared here the ways in which my little daughter has led me towards an interest in Saint Theresa of Lisieux. First she was drawn to a giant statue of "the beautiful lady with the flowers." Then she wanted books about St. Theresa's life read to her at bedtime. When we go to the park where the statue is located, my daughter brings a drawing to leave with St. Theresa. I find her interest, which started at four years old, fascinating. Because of my daughter I read St. Theresa's autobiography, The Story of a Soul. Because of my daughter, I recently started asking St. Theresa for prayers in a personal matter that concerns me.
Normally, I pray mentally while I garden. Nobody knows this, until now. Recently I started adding the St. Theresa chaplet to my prayer routine, which is very short and easy to remember. I added this chaplet to my thought- prayers because I had a special concern, and I wanted to request her prayers.
During her short life, St. Theresa wrote:
"My mission-to make God loved-will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will send a shower of roses."
Now, I just recently planted a rose garden in full sun behind my shade garden as a little gift to myself. These prayer rituals while gardening unfortunately do not diminish my occasional spiritual doubt. My thought process while gardening and think-praying goes something like:
"I wonder if St. Theresa will hear me and pray with me? Well, she said she'd send a sign of roses. My rose bushes are going to bloom soon. That doesn't count. Since that will happen inevitably, it's not a clear sign. Well, I don't care either way if she shows me that she's pulling for me in heaven. I'm just going to believe that she is like my daughter believes."
My rose bushes are budding. I'm not sure if that counts, but whenever I think this way in prayer, I get hit over the head with a spiritual 2 x 4.
Like yesterday, the twenty-third day of my inclusion of St. Theresa's chaplet in my prayer routine. I go to a local flower house for mulch. In the perennial greenhouse an employee approaches me and hands me a long-stemmed pink rose.
"This is for you. I'm pruning the roses." He says.
"Oh that's really thoughtful, thanks." I reply, not thinking anything of it... until I get into the car and place the rose down on the passenger seat.
Then I remember: "I will send a shower of roses."
I cannot really describe the warm feeling that starts in my stomach and overpowers me. I think it is joy; (secret joy is the best kind). Someone randomly hands me a rose. It is pink, the traditional color of the beads on St. Theresa's chaplet. It is clearly not from my own garden. It is the 23rd day of me asking her to pray with me.
I want to share this story with you, to the extent that I feel comfortable, because it gives me so much joy. In my life I am blessed with occurrences that, to me, are clear signs of God's presence and an eternity. When my doubt challenges the signs, other signs that adhere to the requirements of my cynicism appear.
In Story of a Soul St. Theresa wrote: “Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay. It is just the same in the world of souls.”
Thank you St. Theresa for hearing me, and praying with me!
This morning I came down the stairs into the dining room, to find that the little pink rose that was handed to me yesterday has opened.