St. Thérèse was a Carmelite nun who entered the cloister when she was fifteen and died at the age of twenty-four. She is known to the world as The Little Flower because she promised to send down to earth a shower of roses to anyone who asked her intercession. In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, Thérèse recounted the ordinary experiences of her life through which she discovered the extraordinary way is wisdom: to do all with love. She called it her “little way,” the way of love, because everyone could follow it. Everyone can love, so everyone can be a saint. John Paul II wrote of her when he proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church: “In her life God has offered the world a precise message, indicating an evangelical way, the ‘little way,’ which everyone can take…. The core of her message is actually the mystery itself of God-Love, of the Triune God, infinitely perfect in himself.” The relevance of Thérèse of the Child Jesus is evident from the worldwide devotion to her which arose immediately after her death. She shows us through her life a radical humility that makes us aware of our weakness and our total dependence on God, and secondly, complete surrender to the infinite mercy of God. Many who ask St. Thérèse for her intercession for special favors receive a rose as a sign their prayer has been answered. St. Thérèse is invoked as the patron of missionaries and the mission; AIDS and tuberculosis patients, and those who follow her “little way.” The booklet includes morning and evening prayers, a Novena to St. Thérèse, Prayer for a Special Intention, Prayer to Life in God’s Love, Prayer for Healing, Prayer for Families, Litany in Honor of St. Thérèse, and more.
The tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church. Christians have always prayed for various needs, trusting that God both hears and answers prayer. The word “novena” derives from the Latin term novem, meaning nine. In a novena we pray a prayer for nine days. “But,” we might wonder, “doesn’t God know our needs before we event ask? Isn’t praying once for something enough?” Although we believe in God’s love for us, something we need to remind ourselves of this. Although we know we are held in God’s hands and that God will not let go, sometimes we need reassurance. What may appear to be mere repetition in a novena is really a continual act of faith and hope in our loving God.
Just as we pray for each other while here on earth, those who have gone before us and are united with God in heaven can pray for us and intercede for us as well. We use the term “communion of saints” to refer to this exchange of spiritual help among the members of the Church on earth, those who have died and are being purified, and the saints in heaven. Devotion to the saints can help us witness to our faith and encourage us in our commitment to lead lives of holiness and service as they did.