PRO SANCTITY NINE-DAY NOVENA
Nine days of prayer with
MARY and ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX
September 23 - October 1
The Relationship of St. Therese with the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Therese's Mariology coincides with that of the council. She rebelled against the distortions of her age, which exaggerated Mary's privileges to the point of nearly denying her humanity. She saw Mary as the quintessential little soul. It was not Mary who was great; rather it was the incomparable grace of the immaculate conception that was great, with a greatness that did not raise her above the church but plunged her into its very depths. She is, said Therese, "more a mother than a queen." The Second Vatican Council said the same thing. The fathers of the council declined to accept a separate schema on the Virgin Mary, preferring to place its treatment of the Blessed Virgin within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, precisely where she belongs, devoting Chapter 8 of that great conciliar document to Mary and declaring her to be the mother of the church and its model. What kind of a mother would she be, Therese had asked sensibly, if her children did not look like her and could not imitate her?
Certainly Therese herself imitated Mary. A priest who knew her well called her "A ravishing miniature of the Virgin Mary," a delightful description. How she loved the mother of Jesus! With a hand that trembled and could no longer dip her pen in the inkwell, she picked up her pencil for the last time, and this is what she wrote: "O Mary, if I were the queen of heaven and you were Therese, I would want to be Therese so that you might be the queen of heaven." Famous last words, worthy of a doctor of the church, easy to understand and easy to remember and such an astonishing thing to think of saying! [Source: Origins Vol 27,12 (Sept 4, 1997)]
We suggest the following method:
Read the passage given. Read it several times.
Take note of the words or phrases that strike you personally.
Pause, pray and offer your desire to grow in trust that this Word will bear fruit in you.
Entrust yourself to the intercession of your sister, Therese and to Mary, your mother
Ask for the grace of a word or incentive that might become proposal to your life.
Write down your thoughts and prayers and/or share with another person the inspirations that the Lord entrusted to you.
My Mother, My Confidence!
St. Therese, pray for us!
September 23 - October 1
All alone, saying the rosary requires an effort for me. I feel that I say it so badly! Even if I strained to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, I can’t concentrate…I was distressed for a long time over this lack of devotion which surprised me, since I love the Blessed Virgin Mary so much (…) Now I am less distressed, because I think that the Queen of Heaven, being my mother, must see my goodwill and is satisfied by it (Ms C, 25v).
Point to Ponder: A relationship with Mary is not based on our practices, but our desire to be in union with her.
When an angel offers you to be the Mother of the God who will reign for all eternity, what an astonishing mystery to see you prefer the unutterable treasure of your virginity! I understand that your soul, Oh Immaculate Virgin would be more dear to the Lord than the Divine sojourn. I understand that your soul, humble and gentle valley, would contain my Jesus, the Ocean of love (PN 54)/
Point to Ponder: Therese had it right, the greatness of Mary was in God’s choosing her to bear his Son, and she saying YES!
The Blessed Virgin was also watching over her little flower. Not wanting her to be tarnished by contact with earthly things, she moved her to her mountain before she bloomed….While waiting for this happy moment, the little Therese grew in love for the Heavenly Mother (Ms A, 40r)
Point to Ponder: Therese invites us to a deep spiritual journey with Mary.
Finding no assistance on earth, poor little Therese turned to her heavenly mother. She prayed to her to have pity on her. …All of a sudden, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared beautiful to me, with a beauty such as I had never seen before. Her face radiant and indescribable kindness and tenderness. But what penetrated my soul it its very depth was the ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin” (MsA, 30r).
Point to Ponder: The memory of the loving smile of Mary stayed with Therese her whole life.
When Therese was three-and-a-half years old, every evening before retiring, she asked whether the good Lord was please with her. When the answer was in the affirmative, she asked then whether the Blessed Virgin was likewise satisfied (Jamart, pg 252).
Point to Ponder: The Blessed Virgin Mary held an important place in the daily life and daily decisions of St. Therese.
At the age of seven, she wrote in one of her copybooks: “The Blessed Virgin is my mother and little children ordinarily resemble their mama” (Jamart 253).
Point to Ponder: Therese and Mary, mother and daughter.
In the afternoon of her first Communion Day, she pronounced the Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin, putting all her heart in to the act and asking the Holy Virgin, Mother of God, to watch over her. Recalling this later on, she added “that it seemed to her that Mary looked with love at her little flower and smiled at her” (Jamart 253).
Point to Ponder: Offering her life to Jesus was always done through Mary.
The Blessed Virgin made me feel that it was truly she herself who had smiled at me and had cured me. Oh! How great the fervor with which I begged her to be always my protector and help me realize my dream (to see the Pope and ask permission to be a Carmelite), hiding me in the shadow of her virginal mantel (NV August 20 and 23).
Point to Ponder: Therese found trust, confidence and courage under Mary’s mantel.
If we wish a sermon on the Blessed Virgin to bear fruity, we ought to show what sort of life Mary actually led, as indicated by the Gospels, not as fabricated by our imagination…The Blessed Virgin is sometimes pictured as if she were unapproachable. We realize on the contrary that it is possible to imitate her by practicing her hidden virtues. She lives a life of faith common to all of us and we should prove this from what we are told in the pages of the Gospel (NV August 20 and 23).
Point to Ponder: St. Therese deeply read the Gospels and found the mother she was looking for!
Set aside a little time at the conclusion of the novena:
Review the fruits received in these past nine days of prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary and
“The Blessed Virgin is the Queen of Heaven and earth, quite true, but she is more mother than queen…It is proper to speak of her prerogatives, but we must not content ourselves with that. We must do all we can to maker her beloved of souls” (NV August 20 and 23).
All Saints, All Brothers and Sisters!