Friday, August 14, 2015

A Mystical Rosebud: For Sinners and Saints

      Most Catholics who read my blog will recognize the title, "Mystical Rosebud" as a reference to Mary. One of her venerable titles is the "Mystical Rose". I will be honest... I was not entirely sure what this title meant when I created my blog, but I have since done my due diligence to become educated about its significance. Rather than attempt to explain it all myself, I will share some of the more poignant pieces that I read (link here for full article) and then explain why I chose this title for my blog.

"Mary is the immaculate virgin and mother, mother of God, and of all mankind. She is the most noble and perfect of all mothers. Like a magnificent rose she shines in the splendor of her virtues, and is the perfect example for all mothers. Because her heart is fired with love for God and man, she is...likened to the flaming red rose."

 "The rose obtains its life through the stem, to which it is closely united. A rose broken from the stem will soon wither. So Mary received all her graces from Jesus, with whom she was united throughout he liveliest faith and ardent love."

St. Brigid's words stand out to me more than anything:
"The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow."

By naming my blog "A Mystical Rosebud", there are several things I wish to convey to my readership.

First of all, I want people to realize that I - and everyone else for that matter - are on a journey while on this earth. All of us are meant to participate in the glory of God. That is what we were ultimately created for: to choose goodness and Love for ourselves and all individuals we encounter.

My state in life as a married woman is God's way of helping me learn how to love properly. In marriage, there are endless ways for me to improve my love and self-sacrifice for my husband. By learning to die to self out of love for him, I am both serving my husband and my Lord, as well as increasing my own spiritual growth. The Blessed Mother Mary is my greatest advocate and role model. She was without sin, and her "fiat" (her "be it done", her "yes") brought life and redemption to the world through her son Jesus.

In a similar way, married people can bring life to the world when they serve as conduits of the love of God in service to one another and their children. My goal is to become better and better at saying yes to God as best I can, like Mary did.
This relevant passage (from the previously linked article) helps illustrate my point:

(Bouquet from my own wedding)
"The open, blooming rose is an emblem of pure motherhood. Like the opened radiant rose the Christian mother is in the full vigor of life; her heart open with true love for her husband and children; and she unfolds her soul to heaven, so that through prayer she may receive the needed assistance for herself and hers. Through her good example in Christian virtues she spreads around her the fragrance of a God-pleasing life, and encourages those who associate with her to imitate her virtues."

   By using the article "A" in the title, I hope you are spurred to think about your own potential. I am not the only mystical rosebud. There are millions of people in this world who try their best to do good every single day. There are billions of saints in the making. You are one of them! You, yes you, are meant to have a personal relationship with the One, eternal unchanging God of Love. He is subtle. He will not force himself on you. You must open your heart to Him before change will happen in your life.

God has promised crowns of glory for those who follow him to the cross.

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,”
-1 Corinthians 2:9
With a bit of perseverance, we can become fully blossomed roses, in the name of Christ!

"Mystical" is a reminder of the spiritual side of life, the supernatural ("above nature") aspect of the human experience. Too often we find ourselves swept up in everyday life and it is difficult, if not impossible, to lift our gazes above the here-and-now to contemplate the eternal.

My blog is, for me, a way to develop my musings for my own spiritual growth. I've made it public because I recognize that perhaps others may benefit from the little gifts of insight that are inspired in me.
I am not so smart. I just try to be open to whatever it is that God wants me to understand. If truth benefits me, then surely I should share it so that it might benefit my readers too.

Let me tell you about a funny coincidence theme-thingy in my life (or for a better term, a "God-incidence", since I believe everything happens for a reason). 

The first church I attended after years of absence is a diocesan shrine to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The church itself and the grounds which it is situated on are absolutely lovely - the hidden gem of the small town of Collinsville, Oklahoma. The place is fitting for the Saint of the Little Way. It is quiet and unassuming, yet beautiful and poetic just like St. Thérèse. This is ultimately the place I would like to be laid to rest.

During my formation in the faith, I found myself at this church almost daily. Even in the midst of going to school and work full time, I was never too overwhelmed or exhausted to find myself there on a weekday after a long shift as a certified nursing assistant. 

For all my love of St. Thérèse, I did not know anything about her apart from a few quotes. I had not yet read her autobiography, "Story of a Soul". And still, I know she interceded on my behalf.
I was supposed to be working only part time or PRN at the assisted living community. However, due to a shortage of staff I often found myself covering lots of shifts and even working overtime occasionally.

I asked God, "how can I make it through this?" I was exhausted and often angry, being called in to work at the last minute when I had a lot of homework or an exam to study for. Even so, I knew it was an opportunity for me to take up my cross. I was acutely aware of my own mortality and of the importance of daily choices. I prayed about how to handle my situation. I knew I could either let the devil take me down and harbor resentment while just ticking the boxes at work... Or I could offer up my suffering for the souls in purgatory or for some other intention that I felt needed prayer.

 I realized that I don't have to be the best in order to show the Love of God to the world. I don't have to go on mission trips, or be a nun, or anything extreme like that. I simply have to live according to the law of Love. Working as a CNA, I saw that the value of my job resided in its capacity to allow me to show that type of love to my under-appreciated elderly residents. A smile is enough for them! How lazy I am! But still, this is the work of Christ. 

No good deed is too small. Little did I know, St. Thérèse already came up with the "little way". 
She has undoubtedly been praying for me from her esteemed place in heaven! After all, she did say before she died that she would, "...spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."

Another whisper from heaven came to me and my husband on our honeymoon.
We were travelling back to San Antonio from Six Flags and on the way we saw a sign that said "The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower". Having a devotion to St. Thérèse, of course it was a divergence we were more than willing to take. 
We were stunned at the beauty of the cathedral. It was so quiet and unassuming, but the interior was magnificent and awe-inspiring. 
To the left of the altar, in a side chapel, was a glorious memorial to St. Thérèse. I had seen pictures of it before - who would have guessed that we happened upon it!
Here is my own picture:

We prayed for awhile, and we were actually there in time for Mass! 
Afterwards, a nice man approached us and told us that they even had a relic of St. Thérèse that we could view. He insisted that if we each were to touch our wedding rings to her bone relic, that our marriage would be graced with many blessings. 
Therefore, we followed his suggestion by praying for the intercession of the Little Flower. We touched our rings to the relic and kissed it, thanking God for his great love.

Following that moving experience, we were also permitted to view an original painting, created by St. Thérèse's sister, Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face). 

I have always interpreted that funny honeymoon happenstance to be a sign from beyond that I am being looked after, prayed for, and guided.
Right now I am only a rosebud. I trust, however, that the grace of Christ will help lead me to live a more holy life and one day, after I die I will be a Saint.

It's a bold claim in this age, but I believe that is due to the misconception that Saints were only made "back in the day". As if it is some sort of medieval honor that was granted only to people who would not burn (St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Lawrence) , or who levitated during prayer (St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gemma Galgani).
This is not the case. Saints are people who have died and entered heaven. There are more Saints than the Church could ever keep tabs on, because most people endure the cleansing fires of Purgatory before entering heaven, which means they were not perfect on earth but the mercy of Christ purified them after death. If you don't understand Purgatory or you're skeptical about it, I suggest you have a read through this article.

God can make Saints out of the worst sorts. St. Augustine comes to mind. "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet" he famously stated in his Confessions.

Another "Blessed" (someone who is on the path to official Sainthood but not quite there yet) who comes to mind is Bl. Bartolo Longo. He was an Italian lawyer and former Satanic priest. His story is inspiring, his past and conversion not altogether very different from my own, and you can read a summary of it here.

I trust in the mercy of God to make Saints of anyone who does good deeds with Love, in the name of Christ.

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