I’m not sure when it came into my possession to keep and to one day pass along as a legacy of hope. But for as far as my distant memory will reach back, a small gold reliquary the size of a small locket sat perched high atop the tallest shelf in my parents’ curio cabinet. Tucked amidst other treasures, this tiny relic of “the Little Flower” St. Therese of Lisieux was a great source of childhood curiosity for me. I knew the basics of the young saint’s story enough to know that her “Little Way” was a viable path of sanctity for someone like me: a little girl who loved Jesus in a simple fashion.
Somewhere through the years, this tiny bit of my favorite Doctor of the Church came home with me. The reliquary now sits inside a special box on my nightstand, close enough to be kept safe, but accessible enough for me to reach for it in the night when I lay sleepless, perseverating on a need or emotion. With both of my parents now gone to heaven, their relic reminds me not only to emulate Therese’s ardent faith but also to pray for Mom and Daddy’s peaceful repose.
I’ve tried to explain to loved ones and friends the hold this small sacramental has over me. I do not believe in the power of the relic as a “good luck charm” the way I did in my earliest years. But I do see the tiny case and whatever it actually contains as a sign of great hope. Just as I might ask a friend to hold me in prayer when I am struggling, I can turn to the patroness who meant so much to my family of origin and ask her to be at my side as a companion, role model, and prayer champion.
I don’t know when the day will come, but someday soon I will leave that relic to someone I love just as it was left to me. When they accept the sacramental, that recipient will perhaps come to know a part of me that is new to them – the part of me that believes in the power of hope. I am nothing if not an optimist, especially when it comes to the power of God to work big miracles of love through very small, simple people.
Daddy and I often prayed over a favorite scripture verse of his in his latter years, when dementia robbed his physical abilities but left his memory for such things intact:
“They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.”
Remembering the lives of the saints–both those canonized by the Church and the unsung saints like my parents–gives me hope. We who “hope in the Lord” believe not only in the promise of heaven but in the potential of a life lived with great love to offer a small foretaste of that unbounded love here on earth. For a world too often adrift on a tide of negativity, hate, and hurt hope matters.
Copyright 2022, Lisa Hendey
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com and a bestselling author. She has journeyed around the globe to hear and share messages of hope and encouragement. A frequent TV and radio guest, Lisa also hosts two podcasts. Lisa and Greg Hendey worship and live in Los Angeles, CA. Visit her at www.lisahendey.com or connect on social media @lisahendey.
Our Novena Prayers for the Holy Souls In Purgatory
*May be prayed in a cemetery or from home
We’ll be using this gem I discovered in the Pieta Prayer booklet. While it is intended for praying at cemeteries (staying in your car counts), it can be done from home or at church. I have done it for years, and try to attend Mass each day as well! I love walking around the cemetery, prayerfully reading each name while I recite the following Novena Prayers:
- Five Apostle’s Creeds;
- One Hail, Holy Queen;
- One each of the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer), Hail Mary and Glory be; &
- Conclude with Requiem Prayer:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, and may they rest in peace. Amen.