My oldest daughter received the Sacrament of Confirmation last week. She chose St. Therese of Lisieux as her Confirmation name so we got her a pink leather bound St. Therese Bible that has a quote by the saint and my daughter’s first and middle name (Rose) engraved on the front. St. Therese said “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” My Grandmother introduced me to this saying when she advised that I should pray to The Little Flower, as she is affectionately referred to, and said that she has often received answers to her prayers accompanied by a rose from this saint’s intercession .
When I was pregnant with my oldest, my mother told me she knew I was going to have a girl because that morning she saw 1 pink rose blooming on her rose bush after all the other roses had died and the season was over. I had already picked my girl name with Rose as the middle name since that is a family name on my husband’s side, so she took that late-blooming rose as a sign that surely she would have a granddaughter.
About ten years ago we had to travel out of state for the funeral of my cousin’s 12 year old daughter who passed away in an auto accident. At the time, neither my cousin (Catholic) nor his wife (Christian, from I’m not sure what denomination) were practicing their faith. I spent my time in the car on the way home praying the Rosary for their dear daughter and for them as well. One of the things I requested was that they would find their way to practicing their faith again and that my cousin’s wife would convert to Catholicism so they could have a shared faith together along with their son. I remember as I was praying that I smelled the overwhelming scent of fresh flowers. So much so that I had to ask if anyone else in the car had brought some with them from the funeral. The strong scent lasted about five minutes and then faded away. It was then that I knew that my prayers had indeed been heard. It was only a few years later that we received the news that my cousin’s wife had been received into the Church.
What I experienced was not a new phenomenon. It’s actually pretty common. Here’s a link to an interesting discussion of the topic by ordinary folks. The Catholic Church calls it the odor of sanctity when the scent is associated with living or deceased saints.
I’m bringing all this up simply because I came across this lovely poem today that speaks of how doing our duty well will remain after we are gone like the scent of the rose remains after the flower has died. It’s comforting to know that our works can live on and “scent” the future of those touched by our faithfulness. I think God has allowed us this occassional grace of these heavenly scents to remind us of the real beauty contained in all that is good even when it’s not immediately visible to us.
what a beautiful flower!
The glory of April and May:
But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour,
And they wither and die in a day.
Above all the flowers of the field!
When its leaves are all dead and fine colours are lost,
Still how sweet a perfume it will yield!
Though they bloom and look gay like the Rose;
But all our fond care to preserve them is vain,
Time kills them as fast as he goes.
Since both of them wither and fade;
But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
This will scent like a Rose when I’m dead.
~ Isaac Watts