Monday, October 1, 2012

Celebrating St. Therese

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Today is Abby’s first nameday, the day we celebrate her patron saint. Her middle name is Rose, which is a traditional symbol for St. Therese of Lisieux, also known among Catholics as "the Little Flower.”

We are so blessed that Abby’s godparents live close by, so they were able to come over and celebrate. Her godfather showed up with the beautiful bouquet of red roses pictured above. Abby’s godmother and I also chose St. Therese as our patron, so it’s a very special day for us all.

We shared a homey dinner of chicken soup, bread, and salad—something that would have been a real feast for the little Carmelite nun. We rounded things off with something a Carmelite would never eat: eclairs! They were Therese’s favorite treat, and it was a real wrench for her to give them up when she entered the convent.

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All the children had a wonderful time with these coloring pages from Waltzing Matilda. We also read the story of Therese’s life from this lovely little book, which is one of my favorite resources on the lives of the saints for children.

And of course, we prayed for St. Therese’s intercession in our little girl’s life. We hope and pray that Abby, like her patron, will find her own “little way” to sainthood.

5 comments:

  1. It looks like you had a lovely celebration! Do you have a recommendation for a book on the liturgical year that includes ideas of how to celebrate particular feasts(especially with children)? As a newcomer to the Catholic faith, I want to celebrate and live the liturgical year with my family, but I seem to always be missing feast days and finding out about them a day or so late!

    Jenny

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  2. Hello Bethany,
    Not to sound condescending at all, but as an ignorant protestant(lol!), I never understood the Catholic practise of praying to the saints(and see it nowhere in Scripture), and I also don't understand why they would intercede for us, as Christ alone is our intercessor, isn't He? I mean, when the curtain in the temple tore upon Jesus death, that meant that we now can come to Him freely, being justified and called righteous(due to Christ's righteousness, being given as our own)...Could you shine a little light on this?

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  3. Jenny - I will try to get a post up on that soon! Good question.

    Anonymous 10/2:
    Not condescending at all. I love answering these sorts of questions.

    The first thing you need to understand is that the Catholic definition of prayer differs from that of Protestants. For us, prayer is simply the act of speaking to someone who is not bodily present. It is not an act of worship, although we may worship God through prayer. We do NOT worship saints. They are creatures and not divine. Worship is reserved only for the Triune God and to worship anything or anyone else is idolatry.

    So next, in order to understand the Catholic practice of prayer to the saints, you need to understand that we don’t think people “go away” when they die. We believe in what we call the communion of saints (referred to by St. Paul—he calls it a “cloud of witnesses”—among others in Scripture). This means that all the faithful of God are called upon to help each other, whether they are on earth or in Heaven. We’re all helping each other to run this race.

    Considering this, I’d ask you to think about someone you know who is strong in the faith who you admire. What value does that have in your life? You can look to them as an example and an encouragement in your own faith journey. You can ask them to pray for you. Same thing with saints. The only difference being that saints are dead.

    So, in conclusion, when Catholics pray to saints, they are speaking to someone who is not bodily present and asking them for their own prayers as well as looking to them as examples of how to live the faith well.

    One last point, you mention Jesus being our only intercessor. Well, obviously, that’s not something Protestants hold to or we wouldn’t have intercessory prayer (which incidentally is what saints’ prayers for us always are). Jesus is our only MEDIATOR, which theologically is quite a different thing, but that’s another response for another time ;-)

    Hope that was helpful!

    Here’s an older post on the same topic if you want more detail: http://applecidermama.blogspot.com/2009/01/do-you-pray-to-people-other-than-god.html

    God bless,
    Bethany

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  4. Thank you Bethany, that does help some, and I am sorry that I misused the word intercessor!lol I guess what I don't understand is that there are other places in Scripture that warn against attempting to "contact" the dead. Wouldn't that in essence be the same thing as praying to the saints? In the sense that since it is God that has our days numbered, trying to communicate with someone after they are gone is like saying to God, "you were wrong, they weren't done yet and I need to talk to them, despite the fact that you took them away!" Still not trying to be condescending, but we live in a high concentrated area of Catholics of many varieties, and i can't always relate to the mindset very well. Just trying to understand!(and I am fully convinced that there are SAVED Catholics, no doubt!! I know that your Bible has the story of Nicodemus and the term born again, just like mine!)

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  5. Anonymous- To be honest, this is one of the things that Protestants struggle most to understand about Catholic Christianity. Part of that problem is because when Martin Luther adopted his own version of Scripture (cutting out 6 books and portions of Daniel and Esther from the Scriptures that Christians had used up to that point in history) and his idea of "sola Scriptura" (Scripture as the only authority), he ended up cutting his followers off from centuries-old understandings of how to interpret those Scriptures. One of the understandings he took away from the universal church was this idea that we are still spiritually connected in a very real way to the deceased. I don't see it at all as being defiant of God. It's not like I'm trying to "conjure" back the dead -- That IS sin--and is even specifically called out as sin in the Catholic Catechism. We just understand that our souls are eternal and that the prayers of every soul are valuable. Scripture even mentions that the prayers of a righteous man are of particular import and that when two or more are gathered in Christ's name, he is there with them. So, when I ask a saint for intercession, it is the same thing to me as asking a friend for intercessory prayer--I know those prayers are stronger than my praying alone precisely because of the power of Christ--we are His body, and when we work together, He is working through us in a special way.

    Hope that clears a few more things up for you :-)

    Bethany

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