Monday, 19 October 2009

Spiritual Mothers' Thanksgiving Novena Day 6: The Visit of St. Therese's relics to UK: A personal testimony...

Opening prayer ending "We thank you that your Providence has arranged for the following events to occur.

St. Therese visits England and Wales, and through my friends, on and off the internet, has sent several gifts to us here in St. Romain as well:

A Little Background to the present thanksgiving:

Our dear Lord knows that I shouldn't be surprised by her continued concern, and which she has shown me for half a century. In 1959, as a low church Anglican, I knocked on the local Presbytery door and asked to see a priest and be given instruction in the Catholic Faith. As a result, at the age of 16, I was put in the charge of a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and was warned that I could not be received without parental consent until I was 21. (Actually my father gave in when I was 19, but I am glad now that I had that period of waiting, of being tested.) The first book, apart from the penny catechism, that the Sister gave me to read was 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism' by Monsignor Vernon Johnson. As is generally known, the book describes his own conversion and he tells of the great influence of St. Therese in that event. It is hardly surprising that her influence on him affected me greatly. Since that time, I have been devoted to her, at times more fervently than at others, but her interventions throughout the years have been a constant in my life - too many to describe here. St. Therese is known to present people with gifts, often roses. In the case of myself and Colin on our honeymoon in Lisieux, in the holy stillness of her deserted garden at 'Les Buisonnets', she gave us the most pure and ecstatic birdsong. But I will describe exactly what happened on another occasion. It was 21 years ago. We have never forgotten it. Nor will we ever do so.

When I first heard that St. Therese's relics were to visit England and Wales I was very sad that I wouldn't be able to come home for their tour. I think the first thing she did as a sort of overture, was to send, via a dear friend in Devon some 'Rosa Mystica' incense from Walsingham. I don't think he or I connected this with St. Therese at the time, but I most certainly do now. Its scent has pervaded our French home during the entire month of her 'visit' to Mary's Dowry. Five days into the schedule she 'arrived' at St. Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham and I have already reported that my 'sister' at St. John Fisher went there with her parish group of Spiritual Mothers after their inaugural meeting that same day. A few days after this, I received a letter from another most special sister who had also visited, and venerated the relics and been present at the Anointing of the sick. (I had written to her previously asking for her prayers in a particular spiritual trial I was experiencing, although I had not mentioned the visit of the relics in this context. She took the relevant page of my letter with her to the Cathedral and prayed for me there. Meanwhile my problem cleared but I did not know what she had done until several days afterwards when her letter arrived and I read about it and also her description of the event.)

"There were so many hundreds of people converging on the Piazza trying to gain entry into the Cathedral that the Veneration procession had to be stopped so that the 4.30pm Mass could begin. It continued at 6.30pm once the Mass was over. We were also informed from the Sanctuary that at the time the Mass was about to begin, there were in the region of 1000 people outside in the piazza wanting anointing. ............It was so glorious and so utterly moving and yet so full of simplicity. People were carrying bouquets of roses, the marshalls were walking up and down the aisles with great courtesy dispensing plastic cups of water for those who needed it.

Bishop Gough was so thoroughly in command but in the most lovable way as one felt Our Blessed Lord would have been, and his homily about 'the little things' brought such comfort - the time passed so quickly until at the end after the final blessing the collective voices of 'Our God Reigns' stayed ringing in the ears for hours afterwards."

There is more, but I will not repeat it because of the necessity to protect spiritual privacy. However, it should be easy to understand that at the moment of reading the letter, I felt that I was on the journey with Saint Therese, close to her and with her friends and mine. In spite of all the mean-spirited, ignorant and frankly anti-catholic material that the secular press decided to print, I had already known that this visit of St. Therese would not only be a patent success, but that it would be the source of a great outpouring of grace on our country which is so direly in need of it. There had already been signs in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Taunton, but after Birmingham there was no doubt. I rejoiced daily as the news came in from the other stops on the itinerary, culminating in Westminster Cathedral. (Thanks to Leutgeb of 'Bara Brith' for her reports from there.) I could not make the journey physically, but truly I made it spiritually.Three other friends besides Bernadette and Theresa went to Aylesford and two have let me know about their experiences, one of whom is Annie who commented on the last post. The third is Mac, on her blog 'Mulier Fortis'. Heartfelt thanks to you all for ensuring that I felt I'd been there with you . As indeed I had.

But then on the day that St. Therese's relics left Westminster, incidentally my own home Cathedral, I received another letter from my Birmingham sister, who had been at the Anointing of the Sick almost a month earlier. She had sent the page of my letter (mentioned above) to a priest friend telling him of my need in prayer. Now she recounted that he had written to her saying that he had visited St. Therese's relics at St. Aloyisius Church in Oxford. There, he had placed the page of my letter on St. Therese's casket and prayed for my intentions. He returned the page to her together with a rose petal from the church and a prayer card. These she had sent on to me. And so it comes full circle. The page returns to me, and is probably now some kind of official relic, together with a rose petal from St. Therese. Their value to me is impossible to quantify, as is that of this most dear spiritual sister and of St. Therese herself.

This afternoon I had to be driven to the Doctors, not serious, just an administrative matter. After I came out and before being brought home, there was time to visit the Blessed Sacrament at the Church in Aubeterre. It is 17th century with a 14th century facade and very cold inside! Once I knelt down in front of Him, I didn't feel the cold. His tabernacle was in a side chapel and I mourned that to Him. I could only stay for about 15 minutes, but I was alone with Him for that time, and I'm afraid I doubt that many came after I left. It was the first time in months and months that I've been able to make a visit of this kind. Oh how wonderful it was to rehearse with Him all the things I've written (and not written ) in this post. And then just as I left He suggested a solution to one of my problems which was so glaringly obvious, that I caught my breath and almost laughed at my denseness, that had meant He had to spell it out to me. Difficult to believe that this visit was a coincidence.

All I can say here is that I thank Him wholeheartedly, - pathetically insufficient words in place of the silent prayer I offered Him today, which in itself was woefully inadequate. Suffice to say before closing that everyone mentioned above was brought lovingly before Him, as was our Holy Father, and every one of Our Lord's beloved priests and their spiritual mothers and supporters.

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.
Mater Divinae Gratiae, ora pro nobis.
Virg0 potens, ora pro nobis.
Virgo clemens, ora pro nobis.

St. Paul of the Cross, pray for your fellow priests and for their spiritual mothers.
St. Therese we thank you for this time of grace. Pray for all the beloved priests of Our Lord and for their spiritual mothers.

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Final prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Deo gratias!


  1. Hello Jane. I must apologise, yet again, for being so silent recently. Things have been getting somewhat on top of me. You will be pleased to know that St Therese's relics will be arriving in our Archdiocese on the 20th of June next year for a six week 'journey'.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I am glad that you too recognise these unusual happenings as something out of the ordinary. I find that many people, including priests, often simply dismiss them instead of accepting them for the 'graces' that they are. If one is constantly focused on and seeking these sort of things out as a few people do I can understand that sort of attitude but otherwise I find it a little narrow-minded to shut oneself off completely from such things.

    If you wouldn't mind I would like to ask for prayers for a particularly difficult situation I find myself in with a priest in my area. Thank you. Will chat more via email soon. Promise.

  2. Hello Fiona. I'm so happy to hear from you. There are so many bishops and priests in the news who are desperately in need of our prayer and I'll be mentioning some of them soon in a post. However, your request is personal and I will highlight it so that more of the 'mothers' will know of his (and your) need.

    As for St. Therese, as you know, I'm not among those who 'go looking' for such things. And I think that's why half of me is so astonished when they happen. Additionally, apart from the things I mention in the post, there are several other occurences which I cannot describe because of scruples to protect the spiritual privace of others who were involved.

    How wonderful she is 'coming' to SA next year. (And on my birthday! That has certainly fixed the date in my mind.) Our dear Saint had a tough assigment in UK and will probably have an even tougher one in SA in different ways. But she'll do it!! Of that we have no doubt.

    I look forward to your email! And will probably mail you anyway!

    God bless,

  3. Thanks for this post, Jane. Glad you enjoyed reading my account. It was pretty amazing, and I felt as though I had St. Thérèse all to myself (which you can see from the photos I was able to take!)

    Look after yourself, and God bless you for the work you are doing on the Spiritual Motherhood front.

  4. Hello Mac.
    Yes, I did enjoy it very much, particularly the bit about the others all coming forward to touch the casket after you had 'broken the ice'. Loved the photos too. Thanks again and for the encouragement re the SMP blog. The feeling of spiritual solidarity is very important, as it is when the pesky computer keeps playing up!

    You take care too! I hope school has calmed down a bit. Warm regards to Fr. Tim.

    Will probably post about the Anglican thing on the Oasis this evening hope you've managed to get a cleare picture of what it all means from the other blogs.