Two small flecks of red. When I knelt down to genuflect on the outside of my pew, they immediately stood out. Gingerly, I reached for them and picked them up. Rose petals. Just as I suspected.
My husband was astonished that I had even seen them. But I had been meant to find them. It was my sign – the sign that prayers would be answered. It was a form of language, a language shared by those who have a devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. When the priest mentioned her briefly in his homily, my husband nudged me. Yes, it was my sign. My tiny rose petals.
I remember the first time I found rose petals and had to explain the “shower of roses” to my husband. He had not heard the story of St. Therese. “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth,” she says.
These signs are “to make God loved.” When we hear stories of God speaking to people, often we wonder what that could mean. What would that sound like? How would we know that it is God?
And then I remember the roses, St. Therese’s way of reaching out: her whisper. It tells me that she’s heard my prayer and that God is responding.
That is often the confusing part, and it took me quite some time to understand. Just because I received a sign, it doesn’t always mean that we’ll get exactly what we want.
I Googled St. Therese and the sign of roses and came across a message board with someone complaining that he had been praying for something and had received multiple roses, but no answer to the prayer. We cannot know God’s plan – all that we know is that he has heard us and is responding.
Often I’ve found that he responds in a way that I don’t always understand. But later – sometimes after many years – when I reflect, I can start to understand, and I can see the ways that God has been working behind the scenes in my life.
“So, do you pray for roses?” asked my husband, when I first explained the petals to him. Of course not. I simply pray, and I trust. That is, after all, the message of her “little way”: the child-like trust that we place in our faith. The roses appear when I least expect them, and I feel a sense of peace, a renewed confidence in my prayers.
I don’t always know the outcome right away, but I know that I’ve been heard. And that’s enough.
When St. Therese said that her mission “is to make God loved,” this is precisely what she meant. The inner peace that we experience shows our reliance on God and encourages our faith. Often I find that St. Therese speaks to me when I feel like I’m in the dark. The rose becomes a source of light. And I know that she is telling me: I am here, I am listening. Be patient.
Dr. Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.