Time to Turn to the Saints of Fall
By Elizabeth Flynn
Autumn is a season full of beauty: the yellows, oranges and reds of fall leaves, the ripening of apples and pumpkins, and the coming of Christmas--the carols, the lights, and Baby Jesus! However as a mother of four children I also dread the craziness of fall. We are just getting into a new school routine complete with piano lessons, girl scouts, art classes and now soccer 5 times a week. Then there's Halloween with its sugar highs, ghosts and goblins, followed by the stress of planning a big Thanksgiving meal (and often the familial tensions that go with holiday planning). And of course Advent--which unfortunately can sometimes focus on a secular gift-buying and giving frenzy. It is all too easy to loose sight of the people around us who desperately need our prayers and the issues that we as Catholics should be most concerned about.
Thankfully, we are blessed with many wonderful saint feast days this season. Last year, I wanted to do a novena for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. When I looked on the calendar to see whose feast day was coming up I realized that St. Pio of Pietrelcina's feast day (September 23rd) and St. Therese the Little Flower's feast day (October 1st) were exactly 9 days apart. Wonder of wonders--two of my favorite saints...and what timing too! An additional bonus was the feast of the Archangels on September 29th.
I talked about doing a mini-lent with my children, whose hearts really went out to the victims of the natural disasters. They were all for it! So I fasted and we all sacrificed and prayed for those nine days. Everyone gave up something and we said a St. Therese novena together while I said Padre Pio prayers on my own. At one point during the nine days, my kids were at a neighbor's house for dinner. When they were offered dessert, they politely declined and explained that they were giving it up for the people suffering from the hurricanes. Their Baptist friends were so impressed; they decided to give something up the next week too! And it gave me a chance to answer our friends' question "What exactly is a novena anyway?"
However the most beautiful memory of this devotion happened while we were riding our bikes on the last day of our novena--St. Therese's feast day. It was your typical muggy Washington DC day here, just a couple of miles from a sewage treatment plant. The dead leaves of fall littered the neighborhood. There was nothing in bloom except for a few chrysanthemums down the street. As we rode around the block, we were overcome by the sweet aroma of roses. We unsuccessfully searched the entire neighborhood to find the source of the smell. The scent was especially strong near our front door. We knew it had to be St. Therese, who said she would "let fall from heaven a shower of roses." What a lasting impression this made on us all!
I am writing this article to encourage readers to think about making a similar mini-lent this time of year. The strength and power of our prayers now will help us maintain a clear focus during upcoming activities and events. As the world seems to be immersed in turmoil, our nation struggles with issues involving the sacredness of life itself, and our family and friends deal with sicknesses and heartaches, let us take a few days to concentrate our prayers on issues and people that are important to us. This would also be a great time to pray for the upcoming elections. This year I am going to say a Padre Pio novena for national/global issues and a St. Therese novena for some dear people I know who are hurting.
Please pass on this spiritual idea on to your friends and family, joining our prayers together for the good of humankind and the glory of God. If you don't have prayers for either of these saints handy, EWTN has a beautiful St. Therese novena: http://www.ewtn.com/therese/novena.htm. Here is another site on Padre Pio with many of his prayers, including one to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that he said everyday: http://www.padrepiodevotions.org/index.asp?pagename=prayers.
http://www.catholic.org DC, US
Elizabeth Flynn - Homeschool Mom, 202 562-6926
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