Today is October 1st. October 1st has been a special day for many years now. Todays marks the feast day of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Saint Therese, also known as the “Little Flower”, is the saint that I have prayed to and relied on through some of my most difficult times. She was first mentioned to me when I was a little girl. I was about 11 years old and we had moved to Massachusetts with little to nothing to spare. My mother worked two jobs just to make ends meet and worked to provide myself, as well as my brothers with a good, Catholic education.
At this time, I was in the 5th grade. I had the most marvelous teacher ever, Mrs. Klayman (whose husband was later my history teacher in high school). She was such a kind heart and always helped me with anything I needed. I had been attending a Catholic elementary school for about 2 years at that time and it was the first time that I had been in the same school for longer than just the Christmas break (my dad used to move us around A LOT because of work). This was the first time in which I actually had FRIENDS. I had grown so close to some of these kids because we were friends not only during the school year, but we spent summers together. You see, the school I was going to did more than just provide their children with an education, they provided us with a family. We were all each other’s family.
So, at some point in the school year, my mom sat me down and told me that she could no longer pay for me to attend this school. I was DEVASTATED to say the least. She told me this on a Friday and I literally spent my entire day on Friday and Saturday in shambles, crying and just being so hysterical about it because I did not want to lose my friends. I remember that my principal (the best principal you will ever have) had given me a prayer card, Saint Therese’s prayer card, and told me that whenever I felt desperation or that I needed someone to talk to and rely on, to recite the prayer on the card and to give Saint Therese thanks at the end because she will deliver my prayer to God. My principal told me that if my prayer was going to be granted, that I would see “a shower of roses fall from heaven”. Mind you, I had known nothing about Catholicism or any religion for that matter prior to attending this school. It was also the middle of winter when my mom had delivered this news to me so odds are, you won’t see any type of flowers unless you’re going to a florist.
I SWEAR THIS IS THE TRUTH.
Sunday afternoon, of that same weekend, we had to go visit my aunt. I was still crying and devastated because I knew that the very next day, I was going to be withdrawn and taken away from the school and friends I loved so much. On the way to visit my aunt, I was crying and reciting the prayer to Saint Therese like I had been doing all weekend long. I was just staring outside of the car window at all the snow that had fallen, when I swear I thought someone was playing a joke on me. I saw the MOST BEAUTIFUL rose bush filled with pink roses in front of a home. How could it be? In the middle of winter and there are roses that are in seemingly perfect condition? Impossible right? Well if I had not seen this myself, I would have thought someone was lying. I began to cry even more because I KNEW that my prayers were going to be answered. I KNEW that I was going to continue going to that school. I just knew it.
Monday morning came and it was the day that my mom was going to withdraw me from the school. I was still crying because it was real. We were on our way to take me out of that school and unless something HUGE happened in the 4 minutes it took to get from my house to the school, then it was really going to happen.
And guess what, nothing HUGE happened.
We arrived at the school and asked to see the principal. The secretary, who was also a fantastic young woman, saw that I was crying and came and hugged me and asked what was going on. My mom was crying too at this point and stated that she needed to withdraw me because she could not afford to send me there. The secretary began to cry at this time too. The principal came and hugged my mother and myself and was in disbelief that everyone was crying. She then asked what was going and we told her and she began to cry as well. It was a crying fest to the say least.
She asked to speak to my mom in private and told me to go to my classroom. I told her I cant because I wasn’t going to be a student there anymore and she responded with such soft and beautiful words “you are not leaving us until it is your 8th grade graduation”. I was hysterical and did not know what to believe. I went to my class and was still in a state of limbo.
When my mom picked me up that day she hugged me and cried so much, as I did too when I was in her arms. She told me that the principal had offered her a job there as an art teacher and librarian in exchange for me being able to stay there. My mom loves kids and was working at a school so it was an easy decision for her to make.
To this day, I thank Saint Therese for listening to my prayers. She made me a believer. No words could ever describe my boundless gratitude. I cry as I write this because it brings up so many memories.
I dare you to google her and her mission. To read her book, The Story of a Soul. She is amazing and on her feast day, I give her thanks and promise to continue to make her mission known through her “little way”.
P.S. I did remain at that school until the 8th grade and my friends, now, at the age of 24, are the friends that I made over 10 years ago through that school.