Friday, September 28, 2012

When You Are Too Sceptical to Pray

Too Sceptical to Pray

As much as I'm an idealist, I'm also a realist. The two clash but help me keep things in perspective. It often keeps me from taking a leap of faith.

I admit that my faith lacks. I can write all I want of beautiful prayers and harp songs and moving statements of faith. I can pray all day and night for my friends' requests, but I can become as sceptical as the atheist when it comes to asking favors through prayer.

It has nothing to do with trust.

It's because I'm scared, that's why.

It's because, as a parent, I know that sometimes the parent must say "No" or "Not right now" and I don't want to hear those words.

I know how sceptical I was when people told me of the roses they received when praying the St. Therese Novena. I was sceptical because I preferred sceptism to superstition.

What if, despite faithful prayer, you didn't receive a rose?

Would you lose faith?

What if You Don't Receive a Rose?

Would you lose faith in your prayers? Your God?
Should faith be confirmed through a rose?

Fear kept me from ever praying that novena to St. Therese. I did not want to pray a prayer where each day would find me looking for, hoping for, searching for something that proclaimed my prayer had been heard. That was too palpable to expect. Too tangible a denial to be felt. I preferred not to chance the hurt.

Faith was better left unseen.

I'd rather go pout in a corner and sulk. :-)

My Lack of Faith in Novenas

I've never had much success at praying novenas. Never.

I've tried. In the space of a heartfelt conversation, I have been the biggest advocate of praying a novena for a dear friend's intention. I've begun them with gusto only to watch them feathered away. Only to see them fail. every. single. time.

Because of my own lack of diligence.

My commitment and my faith towards prayer has been lost in the privacy of my room where no one could see, no one could hear, and no one would know my lack of faith and prayer.

Of course, I knew it wasn't the novena prayer that was the problem. It was my own lack of caring enough, my own lack of perserverance.

In June of this year, these things changed.

Prayer Mentors/ Warriors

We met to plan the homeschool graduation. For many of my friends this was their first graduate. For Karen and I it was our third graduate. Didn't make it any easir. In fact, I found the walk harder. More than half my children were escaping my tutelag and going out into the world. Days of life with children in the home were shortening and a shadow had been cast.

There was something else weighing on my heart which I had only shared with a handful of people. My son's girlfriend was pregnant. After the graduation walk, I let these eleven friends into my confidence in a private, personal way. In the landscape of emails, confessions and confidences tumbled from the satellites in space heavens and entered our homes and our hearts.

I was not alone. Never was.

A Fragrant Faith

One friend quickly suggested we begin praying for each other and all our intentions. And there were many, many intentions. We all agreed that our husbands, as the heads of our families, needed our prayers the most. On July 2nd we entrusted a novena to St. Joseph for our husbands and families.

Every morning my friend Michelle emailed a reminder for the daily novena. In August we turned our pleas to St. Maximillian Kolbe. In September we turned to Padre Pio for his intercession. This week we send a request to St. Therese to send roses, something I have never been brave enough to ask for. Too palpable. Faith turned fragrant.

Of course we were not praying for roses.

We prayed for wayward sons, ailing husbands, employment requests, marital problems, furtility and lack of, cancer calls, moving intentions, sick grandparents, friendships, pregnancies, and those eleven graduates we released into the world.

Even while dealing with a high risk pregnancy and high blood pressure issues which put her in the hospital and delivered her baby girl weeks early, Michelle kept sending out those daily emails. Even on the eve of delivery, knowing her baby daughter would come too early, yet too troubled to sleep, Michelle turned to prayer and did not fail to send out that regular novena alert.

And a habit developed for me at home.

I no longer had a baby waking me in the middle of the night. I had an aging dog.

Odd Bed Fellows & Odd Prayer Hours

I am the caretaker of an 18 1/2 year old family dog. We've had her since she was 6 weeks old and my recent graduate was 1 year old. The three older children rode with their daddy to select this new pet and she has been a faithful dog. When she goes, it will mark an end to my older children's childhood. Despite those children turning 25, 22, and 20; I still hate to see a headstone put on top of their childhood.

So every morning I awake between 2-3 AM to let Frenchie outside. She's still in pretty good form for her age but she's a lot slower and cannot hold her bladder they way she used to. We have no more carpet in the house but I have become religious about letting her make her morning walk under the starry sky.

Email Alerts from Heaven

Often around that same time, the internet satellite in space heavens send out an email alert into my inbox and, while I wait for Frenchie to finish sniffing around the cajun oak trees, I turn on my iphone and pray that novena prayer.

As I walk in the night air and pause to look from my patio at a sleeping world, it is clear to me that I am not alone. There are ten friends praying with me. They are praying for my family because they are all faithful prayer warriors, more faithful than I. These ten other ladies are dependent upon my prayers. They are hopeful that prayers are being said, trusting that a weak, sleepy friend will awake to pray for their children, their spouse, their parents, their pleas.

I awake. I pray.

The novena prayers are no longer a burden. They have become part of my vigil.

With the praying of these novenas comes the story of my first prayer rose.

 My First Prayer Rose

Last Friday my aunt/godmother passed away. She was 91 years old and lived a wonderful life and died hardly troubling anyone. On Saturday, Michelle sent out the first day of St. Therese's novena. I began the novena with the rest of my prayer team. I prayed for several intentions, directly referred to several as my dog took longer than usual to make her round.

I did not request a rose, did not expect a rose. I purposely avoided any mention of a rose.

I do not tend to be superstitious nor do I like superstition being linked with prayers to God. Superstition has no place where faith is. Still, this novena is so closely linked with roses and showers of them that even the most pious Catholic cannot help but think of it as she recites the novena.

Are maybe it's just me. So I have always skirted it warily and with some sceptism.

I don't mean to be wary or sceptical. I just am.

On Monday my family stood at the graveside, the service over, people standing to leave. I had not thought I'd be there. I had been summoned for jury duty that morning only to be told the evening before not to report until Tuesday morning.

God's providence.

Nanny Ruth's daughter-in-law turned to all present and announced that Nanny Ruth's wishes were not to have beautiful flowers, especially her favorite yellow rose, rot around her gravestone but for us all to receive them as a parting gift and enjoy the beauty of it. She would have wanted all her granddaughters and nieces and friends to take a yellow rose home with them to remember her by.

From heaven, my godmother and St. Therese were giving me roses. :-)

"After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved..." ~ St. Therese
A Parting Gift

It hit me in that brief announcement that my godmother was handing me a rose as her parting gift. My godmother was a part of my life, always there, always in the background, ever present. She desired that I leave her side with a rose.

She and St. Therese were in cahoots together.

I knew my own mother would make sure I had a rose in hand before I left but, as I turned, my husband and son approached me with small bouquets of roses. They had picked roses for each of their "girls". I was handed five. In my contemplative discernment I could not help but see each rose as the five intentions who are most dear to me in this life.

As my godmother exited this world, through her, St. Therese had indeed showered me with roses. They were the palpable assurance of my prayers heard and grace given.

{Thank you so much for reading and, if you can, would you please say an extra Ave for some of these prayer intentions. Some have a certain air of urgency surrounding them and an extra supply of prayers would not hurt. Thank you and God's blessings.}


  1. Great job, Cay...Nannie Ruth would be so happy with this she read your blog faithfully.

  2. My second set of roses from the Little Flower this novena.
    a link to help with novena memory loss
    he emails everyday the prayers, basically impossible to forget.
    Embracing Nanny's idea, beautiful selfless gift to grieving family and friends. LOVE IT!
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. The entire post is beautiful :)

  4. This was a really, really beautiful post. I too have had trouble with novenas. I usually have great intentions but it then peters out and I agree, it is because of my lack of caring enough. And I did do a novena years ago for an intention but never received roses. I think because the answer was "no" or "not yet." I keep praying.

    One of the things though that does help, as you found out, is friends bolstering us. I just finished reading a book by Teresa Tomeo of EWTN and Cheryl Dickow called Wrapped Up: Gods Ten Gifts for Women, and one of the ten gifts was the gift of women friends. It is our friends that support, suggest, guide and teach us. They encourage us when things get difficult and hold us up when we cannot stand anymore. And they are placed in our lives by God, as surrogates from Him. We can't feel His arms around us, but we can feel theirs. We won't be cooked a meal by Him, but our friends do it in His stead. And in turn their lives are graced by helping us. What wonderful ways are God's ways.

    I have also found that to remember prayer a great help is to schedule a Google Calendar reminder. A member of our prayer group scheduled a daily reminder to pray a certain prayer every day (in our case it is the St. Michael Prayer) and it comes in my email. I was not sure if I liked having another email but strangely enough I do. The prayer is short enough I do it right then and there at the start of my day. And it turned out to be great for me.

    Thanks for a great post!

  5. I have a couple of St. Therese rose stories but I will tell you the most recent...the one that happened when I clicked on your blog! I had been going back and forth recently about whether or not I had to get a part time job. I am a homeschooling mom of 7 kids so I really don't want to, but sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do. I knew that today we would be going to the National Shrine of St. Therese so I began to pray to her. I asked that the first rose I saw on her feast day (assuming it would be at the Shrine) lead me in the right direction.

    White rose - I'd begin to look for a job.
    Yellow rose - I wouldn't, and would just hang in there and trust God.

    Well, I'm sure you figured out what happened. The answer came via your beautiful pictures and before 7:30 am at that! How cool that my answer came through your answer :) This is my first visit here, so I'm sure it is no coincidence that I found my way to you today. Thank you so much for posting this!
    God Bless.

  6. I just received my first rose....oh, cynical me! xx

  7. I just received my rose....oh, cynical me!

  8. I said the Hail Mary you requested. Thank you for the beautiful post.

  9. Today I had a chance to read your comments once again and I am so grateful for the prayers and the
    Lovely memories shared.


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