Lately, since I have gotten my own roses from St. Therese, I have been curious about what a sign given to us by a saint really means. Does it mean that God will grant our wish, or perhaps that our prayers have only gained submission and they are yet to be considered? The answer to this question can be quite complex, and we must always remember that God’s ways are above ours, and that our job is not to understand Him first but to accept His decision with trust that He always wants the best for us.
From an early age, St.Therese was drawn to many different vocations. She wanted to become a doctor, a priest, a saint, an apostle, a martyr, and only after long hours of prayer did she discover that the foundation of all these vocations is love. Essentially, she realized, she wanted to profess love, spread love, and work through love, not for herself, but for all mankind and for God’s glory. She realized that love was her vocation. She noticed that God loves us tremendously, yet only a few of us show love to Him, yet our love is the only thing He desires from us. So, to make up for what we lack and to make God’s heart happy, she offered herself as the martyr who made all possible sacrifices to show love for God there where we did not. She never denied any hard work, never refused any task, and never turned away from any opportunity to show sympathy, understanding and kindness; she was good where we were bad, kind where we were impatient and judgmental. She did everything to show God that men were capable of loving Him, and that His teachings did not fall on deaf ears and cold hearts. For her all was and still is love, all stems from love, and even now, after her death, she is ready to make tremendous sacrifices for love and in the name of love. That is why she received the title: Doctor Amoris.
As she was nearing death and slowly succumbing to her disease, Therese said: “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth… My mission is to make God loved… ” And her mission is to make God loved here on earth. But how can she do that? How can she draw us closer to God, make us open our hardened hearts to Him all on her own?
As a saint, she has a wonderful and God-given power: she can intercede on our behalf by praying to God that He grant our wishes. And indeed it is with this shower of roses that she decided to signal that she is praying to God, and that God is responding favourably to our prayer. However, we must remember that St. Therese can only intercede, but she cannot grant our wishes herself. Everything is God’s decision, and everything is up to His divine approval. In order to be granted, our wishes have to fit into His divine plans. Therefore, St. Therese “boldly declared she would take her roses before God in heaven for His blessing before she would shower them upon the earth. Everything is subject to His discretion.” (Ficocelli, E. “A Shower of Heavenly Roses”, p 26) And when our wishes do fit into His Divine plans, when we gained His goodwill, he allows St. Therese to signal His loving approval to us with a rose. Therefore, the roses we receive as the answer to our prayers come directly from God, and St. Therese is our lovely divine messenger. It is a “physical, tangible thing to guide a person as to what God’s will is in a situation” (Ficocelli, E. “A Shower of Heavenly Roses”, p 143), and as such, receiving such a rose is an overwhelmingly emotional experience. After all, a divine messenger left it for us as a sign of hope and a sign of God’s love for us, of His divine intention to say yes to our request, and as well as a sign of St. Therese’s devotion to us and her promise. When we receive the rose, we feel encouraged, even though, we would need no signs to have trust and faith; nonetheless, being human, seeing something that we can process with our intelligence encourages us, makes us feel loved and cared for. And once we see such a loving sign, indeed a sign of hope, encouragement and mercy sent by God, we draw closer to Him, open our hearts to Him, feel an overwhelming love for Him, that He, in His greatness, looks at us, understands our pain, knows us by name and has mercy on us. This is what the rose means; St. Therese is praying with all her might and heart for us, and that God is granting our wish because He can never deny anything from His favourite.
The rose makes us gravitate towards God. Suddenly we feel His presence, and we feel that we truly are His creations, the one He loves the most, and by whom He also wants to be loved, deeply and trustingly and with complete abandonment. In the face of such love for us, we want to lift our heart to Him, snuggle in His cape, be one with Him. One simple rose evokes the deepest and most moving feelings for our Father. As Angel Elemiah instructs us to say: “When I will understand, when I will know, when your secret face will be revealed to me, my love -great and immense – like an arrow will fly to you.”(Haziel, “Le Grand Livre des Invocations et Exhortations, p 45) What a beautiful expression: the rose is God’s secret face revealed.
With the rose, St. Therese is signaling to us when she is “doing something good upon earth”. She is doing good on earth because she is making us happy by letting us know that our wish is taken seriously and that the solution we have asked for is in the making and will soon present itself in our lives. She is also doing good because feeling God’s love so strongly, we also feel a surge of love within us for Him and a humble admission of guilt for all those times when we thought that He abandoned us. Now, with this one rose, we feel important again, and we feel inspired to show our love and great attachment to our Father who never abandons us.
This rose is a visible and undeniable sign we so often crave in times of trouble and unrest. It is a sign of hope that instantly restores our internal harmony and balance. We feel loved, and we love in return. This is what St. Therese wanted. For her love is the foundation of everything, the sentiment without which life is not possible. The rose is like a rose we receive from a lover: it is given to us to let us know that we are valued and that our happiness matters, and we love our lover for such a wonderful gesture. The channels are open, and love flows.
The Rose is also a sign of St. Therese’s love for us. She never turned away from praying hard to God on our behalf and from reaching all the way down into the thorny thickets to pluck out our rose. She chose to suffer for love; love for us, and for God, to make God loved here on earth. St. Therese’s intercession is rooted in love. She spends her time in Heaven making sacrifices for God and for us, so that love between God and us may flow freely and abundantly, and we are reassured of each other’s devotion.