Before I left for WYD I did a 5 day novena to St. Therese. This is a very powerful novena, that I also prayed when we traveled to China to adopt my daughter, Faith.
On the first day it was suppose to end, I missed praying before 11 a.m. as it calls for. I was so bummed but it was obvious St Therese doesn't need rules as I was given a set of St Therese rosary beads that very day!! Since I do need rules (and thought the extra protection and intercession couldn't hurt) I did it again -- this time on the day I finished I saw a rose on a business card at my nail salon. The following day - since I thought the sign was a bit sketchy - sweet Therese sent me the exact same rose graphic in a thank you email from a friend (using the site cited below).
On the trip - She has showered me in roses:
* At the Favelas (Rio slums) after buying bottled water and praying for a sign that it was safe - we were lead into the inside of one of the Favela homes. The owner's mom, who no longer lives there was crazy for clocks - and ever inch of the wall was covered in different clocks. On one wall - I saw a clock with a rose on it and the word AQUA next to it!! OH and it was the same rose graphic I'd been seeing back in the states!
* At the opening Mass I was given a card with St. Therese's image and of course she is holding roses, under her picture are the words, "Trust God! Let Faith, Hope and Love Conquer ALL!
* Wednesday morning (after our very difficult adventure home), I looked closer at a small frame with picture of the Virgin Mary depicting the apparition at Lourdes -- that a sweet girl gave me last night at the Opening Mass -- I noticed our Lady was standing next to a HUGE rose bush!
** after I posted that first blog, I soon learned that St. Therese was not done yet...
I clicked on a twitter link for prayer requests - to ask for intercession of whether we should got to Copacabana beach for the Vigil and Closing Mass - and the link turned out to be the very site I received the Thank You card from my friend before we left! Great St Therese site: http://www.littleflower.org/prayers/StThereseIntercessions.asp
Saturday night at the Vigil, I had just experienced Adoration, with the Pope and Matt Maher signing, "Jesus, I Need You." Although we were still in Adoration I wanted so much to share that moment on Twitter. Although I tried a few times, I was unable to open the Twitter App on my phone. I felt the Holy Spirit was trying to alert me to focus on what was happening, and share the experience later - I dropped the phone into my backpack, and looked up at the giant screen now showing a slide show - just as I did, there appeared a rose bud that blossomed on the screen before my eyes!
It just seemed every time I asked for a sign she provided, usually without hesitation. Ian bought a soda from a vendor on the walk home from the Closing Mass - we cleaned off the top but still I worried it was sitting in contaminated ice (I know my fear of germs is truly unhealthy in and of itself)- but St Therese is sympathetic because a few moments later I noted a beautiful gold rose on the architecture of a building as we walked by.
Sunday night when we finally returned from all the WYD festivities, had my first hot meal in a week, finished our group meeting, and I was finally about to settle into my favorite spot in the hall outside our room, I was approached by a very strange man. He got way to close, and behaved in a way that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I quickly back into my room, and contacted the leadership to warn the others of this possibly dangerous person. I was also concerned because they evening we had discovered that my son's iPod had been stolen, and although I did not want it reported for fear of retaliation or something (irrational I know) happening, I had just learned the hotel had been informed. My mind was racing with sleep deprived crazy thoughts, and just before one of the leadership team arrived to check on me, I had again turned to St. Therese for a rose to help me feel safe and stop worrying about Ian. As we stood in the hallway talking, I looked at her necklace and asked, "Is that a rose?" "Oh yes, but its even more than a rose," she put the rose in her fingers and turning it over revealed, "it has the image of St. Therese on the other side." I sleep like a baby that night!!
Our last day we were running late for Mass with the Cardinal, I felt guilty because it was my insisting that we wait for Ian that made us late. We lost the group, and didn't really know how to get to the Shrine. I knew that others in our group were also concerned we'd miss the beginning of Mass, and I asked for assurance we'd be there on time. Just then a man carrying a bouquet of roses walked by me. And then a bit further just for good measure, we passed a flower vendor who was sweeping up a few dozen rose pedals from the sidewalk. And then as we took our seats for Mass, I looked over the altar again the beautiful architecture held a perfect gold rose - directly in line with my vision. There had been so many messages received during this week - and I had been seeking so much validation and assurance that I'd perceived them correctly - each rose brought such comfort and peace to my heart.
Finally at JFK in New York, just before our last leg of the journey to Boston. My son asked me if the rose finds were like a game of Where's Waldo - did I have to look for them, or do they just appear. Although it is hard to explain how, I can just sense one is near, and then within a few minutes or so, I will find it. He seemed a little disappointed, and eager for a game of Where's Waldo, so I suggested that we could ask for one and see who finds it first. I mean, St. Therese was a young woman when she died, she was a feisty, fun, generous soul - why not think she'd enjoy this game as much as us. We played for while - looking at people's name tags, store windows, everywhere we thought one might be. Finally we got to the terminal, and I opened my book, "33 Days to Morning Glory". I looked at the card I'd been using as bookmark - and then laughed out loud, waving Ian over. There on the card was our Blessed Mother holding a bouquet of White Roses - that even after 2 weeks I'd not noticed...until then!!