• Sarah Raad


“A slight cut of the sabre will separate my head, as a spring flower that the Master of the garden picks for His pleasure.” (Saint Théophane Vénard).

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and Saint Théophane Vénard

I recently had some surgery.

Since I write a lot – and have a terribly big mouth – quite a lot of people knew that I was having that surgery. The consequence of this was not only that I received many many prayers for both the procedure that I had and for my recovery in the weeks and months that followed – which I felt to the very depths of my soul – but I also received many many bouquets of flowers from wonderful people who wished me well…

In fact, I have never received so many bouquets of flowers in my life – so I quite enjoyed the beautiful flowers around my home!

The wonderful thing about bouquets of flowers is that they are arranged in such a marvellously beautiful manner. The flowers complement each other, and they are placed ever-so carefully into just the right position to ensure that the combination of blooms is most pleasing to the eye.

And because they are beautiful and pleasing it is important to do things to try to preserve their very short life…

There are several things one must do to keep a bouquet of flowers fresh and to prolong its life as far as possible. Firstly, the stems of the flowers can be trimmed to ensure optimum absorption of water. Secondly, the water must be kept fresh and changed regularly or else the stems of the flowers will rot. And thirdly, chemicals can be added to the water to keep the blooms alive.

I have been reflecting on these bouquets over the last few days because I recently read a story about Saint Théophane Vénard, whose life served as an inspiration to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

You see, Saint Théophane Vénard was a young French Missionary Martyr Théophane Vénard and in his last letter to his father, this Saint wrote… “A slight cut of the sabre will separate my head, as a spring flower that the Master of the garden picks for His pleasure. We are all flowers planted on this earth which God picks in His time; a few early, a few later, one a crimson rose, another a virginal lily, another a humble violet. We all endeavour to please, according to the fragrance or brightness (like flowers) we are given by our sovereign Lord and Master. I wish you, dear Father, a long peaceful, and virtuous old age. Carry gently the cross of this life behind Jesus as far as Calvary, to a happy death. Father and son shall meet in Paradise. I, a little may-fly, shall leave the first. Adieu.”

And I can see from these last words to his father – through this wonderful example of faith – something of my bouquets here too…

Just as our earthly life is designed to be brief, a bouquet of flowers is not designed to have a long and lasting life. Floral bouquets last a few weeks at most – and such is the relative brevity of my earthly life… But still, even in this brief window that we have on earth, there is opportunity to please Our Lord. As Saint Théophane Vénard said… “We are all flowers planted on this earth which God picks in His time…”

And so, there are things we can do to lengthen our lives – not our earthly lives as flowers in a bouquet – but our spiritual ones so that they may be pleasing to Our Lord and we may merit eternal salvation and not eternal death…

Firstly, just as the stems of the flowers can be trimmed to prevent the flowers from rotting, so too can the distractions from our faith be “trimmed” from our lives so that we can better absorb the gift of Grace as a flower absorbs water.

Secondly, just as the water for the bouquet is regularly changed to keep the flowers fresh, we can use prayer as a mechanism for renewal too… For prayer is nothing more than an opening of one’s soul to our Beloved, and that gives strength!

And thirdly, just as chemicals can be added to the water to prolong the life of the blooms, so too can the sacraments be received so that we are “born again of the Spirit…”. For “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit…’” (John 3:5-6).

And so, as I clean away all the old bouquets after the weeks that I have enjoyed seeing them, and as I reflect on the brevity of this life, it occurs to me what a gift it is – this gift of Faith…

For with faith I truly have nothing to fear, because my Beloved does all things for me. And all I need do, is to believe…

That is all that I need to do…

And my Beloved will take care of the rest…

How awesome in my Lord and God, King of the Universe, who cares for me as a child, though I do little to please Him… How awesome in my Lord and God, and oh, how I love Him…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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