The gift of Peace

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Mickie O’Connor passed away suddenly before Christmas last year.

Although you probably didn’t know Mickie, you may have heard her voice; for years, she answered the phone here at the Society of the Little Flower. Mickie and I would occasionally joke around or share a funny story. It turned out that, as a child, she and her family knew my dad- his office was near their home. The stories she related about my dad meant a lot and gave me just one more reason to enjoy talking to her.

Unfortunately, I was out of town at the time of her wake and funeral. I wanted to say goodbye and was truly disappointed that I couldn’t make. A few days later, I returned to the office. I happened to be the last one at the SLF office that evening, and, as I was leaving, I decided to stop by Mickie’s desk and say a quick prayer. I ended up quietly talking to her, hoping somehow that she might hear my words.

Within seconds, I was overwhelmed by the smell of roses. Those of us who work at SLF are used to hearing such stories, and, frankly, I have been a bit skeptical. So here I was, standing at Mickie’s desk and the air around me was filled with the smell of roses. I looked high and low for its source, sniffing around like a bloodhound. I found nothing. The next day, it happened again.

As I reflect back on those two incidents, I am struck by the peace that came over me as I stood there. I knew that Mickie was in good hands, resting in the arms of the Lord and comforted by St. Therese. We often define peace as the absence of conflict, but perhaps a better definition is “the gift that comes from absolute trust in God, knowing that He will always take care of us.”

As St. Therese said, “Everything is grace.” She was right, but there is only one way a person can discover that. It comes by placing complete trust in God, no matter what, trusting that, even in the most dire of circumstances, God will help us navigate through the storms. Once that belief becomes part of who you are and not simply a good idea, genuine peace flows into your heart. And then nothing can take it away.

Most of us would prefer to leave battling dark nights of the soul to the saints. We need the occasional scent of a rose, the unexplained miracle, or the unexpected kindness of a stranger to keep us going; they confirm that Someone greater is in control. Thankfully, God understands our weakness and is happy to send those consolations on our way when we need them.

Where do you find peace? How do you come to a place that allows you to believe with all your heart that “everything is grace.” That can be a tall order, but here’s my prescription:

  1. Visit the National Shrine of St. Therese here in Darien, Ill. I guarantee that you will find that peace here.
  2. If circumstances do not allow you to visit, then simply say this prayer:

“O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please Pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens And send it to me as a message of love. O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in Your hands. [mention your requests]

St. Therese, help me to always believe as You did, in God’s great love for me, so that I Might imitate your “little ways” each day.
Amen

God’s great love for me… the words of Isaiah offer a comforting image of that love:

“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you.” (IS 49:15-16)

God didn’t just write our name on his palm… He engraved us there. He holds our hand at all times. It’s up to us to hang on, just like a little child holds tight to a parent’s hand.”

The saints and angels are at God’s service. They intercede for us and steer us in the right direction. St. Therese promised to send a “shower of roses” to those who need consolation when it is needed most. Believe this: She does what she said she would do, to this very day.

Who wouldn’t benefit from such graces? That is why we are in the renovation of the National Shrine of St. Therese- to ensure that all people, especially the young who are still finding their way, will have a place to turn when the going gets tough.

And when the roses come your way, be sure to stop and smell them.

-Dan Pritchard
Director of Planned Giving, Society of the Little Flower
Between Friends, Summe 2016


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