A Rose from the Heavenly Garden: The St. Therese Novena
Every year I share these stories because of the love and friendship I have for St. Therese of Lisieux. She was my first "spiritual friend" and walked with me through many difficult times in my life and I promised her that I would share this novena as far and wide as I could. When I taught Theology I would do this with my students and print the novena for them to carry in their planner or backpack as a physical reminder to pray always. My husband and I now continue this together with the intercession of being blessed with children, but we prayed this long before we were married.
Let me tell you some rose receiving experiences I have had with this novena.
Two days ago, September 22nd, the novena to St. Therese of Lisieux began and it ends the day before her feast day which is October 1st. I have done this novena every year for over 8 years and anytime I am feeling unrest in my heart. Very few prayers are said to end with a tangible response but this one does, St. Therese giving you a rose from the Heavenly garden. I have prayed it many times and no, I don't always receive a rose, but there were several times that I did. I share this reminding my friends that this isn't some magical experience, it's a relationship of intercessory prayer with the blessing of graces.
When I met my now husband over 9 years ago I prayed this novena in discernment of our dating. I was in and our of poor relationships and wanted to date someone that I could share my faith with, someone that I could truly discern with. I prayed a novena to St. Therese asking her to give me clarity and often prayed with her asking her intercession on this matter. The day my now husband asked me out I was praying in the chapel of St. Basil at our university when he came in with a rose that he picked from a garden along the way. He sat down, handed it to me, and asked me to be his girlfriend but had no idea that I had been praying the novena. (Read the crazy connection at the end too!)
The second time happened while we were dating, again without his knowledge of me praying this novena. We dated for a long time and I was beginning to feel restless. I felt like I was so ready for marriage but it was not happening! Looking back I see that was for our good, but things can get so confusing in the midst of it. I always had this intuition that he was meant to be my husband, but I was afraid that maybe it taking so long meant something else. I prayed a novena to St. Therese again and kept her close to me in prayer. Towards the end of the novena he came to see me and brought with him a rose. I asked him where he got it and he said while walking over someone just gave it to him and he knew he had to give it to me.
The last time I prayed this novena and received a rose it was for our engagement. I knew we were getting close and asked St. Therese through her novena to give me affirmation that this was God's will, that getting married would be pleasing to God. The day my husband proposed he was supposed to ask at the parish we spent many years going to Mass together. We went to confession, Mass, and sat out in the courtyard talking, and just as he was about to ask we were kicked out because they needed to lock up! I thought, oh my Lord, you've got to be kidding me. Thinking on his toes, and without knowing about all my prayer, he took me back to the rose garden at the university chapel where he initially asked me to be his girlfriend and where I once received that initial rose. I sat amongst some early blooms and he asked me to be his wife.
Like I said, the St. Therese Rose Novena isn't some magical prayer! It's a prayer that you say because you love God and you want to follow the little way of St. Therese, doing small things with great love. There were also many times where I have said the novena but did not receive a rose, and that is okay because it doesn't mean that my prayer wasn't heard!
I would encourage you to say this novena too, maybe not to see if you'll get a physical rose, although that would be a great blessing, but so that you can know the sweet friendship of St. Therese. Walking closer to God with her has brought my life lots of joy and many blessings. And if not St. Therese, then find your Heavenly friend to connect with, and share their story with others.