THE NINTH DAY (Chapter 9)
The Little Flower and the Church
Nothing is more astonishing about the history of the Little
Flower than the speed with which she was canonised.
The process, which often takes centuries, was so rapid in her
case that the Church almost seems to have been swept along on
the tide of popular enthusiasm.
But more likely the Church was eager to give this saint to the
very age which had produced her and which so badly needed the
inspiration and example which she could so perfectly give. For
the Church was proud to have such a woman to offer to this
Men were scoffing at the Church and disregarding her claims.
"You are obsolete," they said, "a sterile mother who once may
have produced lovely children but who can produce them no longer."
So they offered a thousand substitutes for the Church, any of
which they claimed would breed a finer race that the saints.
Then, at the moment when they were jeering most tauntingly, the
Church, always mother of saints, pointed with a proud gesture to
the Little Flower, as much as to say, "There is my daughter.
Now show me her equal born of any other mother in the world."
Saints are important to the Church. They are a proof of her
truth; she alone of all the creeds and religions that claim to
sanctify mankind gives saints to the world. They are a proof,
too, of her unfailing vitality. Today, as always her doctrine
and practice make the finest and noblest type of manhood and
So in the Little Flower the Church proved that her religious
truth is still the only truth, as her sanctity still makes weak
mortals into heroic saints.
She has answered the taunts of her enemies with the woman who
has done more to restore our faith in womanhood and its
possibilities than all the reformers of our times.
To us Catholics she brings the inspiration of her life and the
conviction that heights of sanctity are not beyond our aspiration.
To many non-Catholics she has brought faith, leading them
gently but inevitably into the only church which could possibly
produce so fair a flower.
The Church knew, too, that our age would imperil the innocence
of youth as no other age has done since Roman corruption was
purified with martyr blood.
Youth needed a saint of our own generation who would prove to it
conclusively that innocence is still possible and purity is the
fairest virtue that youth can wear upon its soul.
Young men looked up at the stainless face of this young woman
and felt once more the old chivalrous thrill. They could keep
themselves worthy of her and of the young women who might follow
in her footsteps.
Young women, surrounded though they might be with temptations,
looked at that lovely face and knew that the highest beauty
radiates from an innocent soul and that the flesh is fairest,
that is clothed in purity.
What she had done, this immaculate flower in God's garden, they
too could do; and they have blossomed in a world of sinfulness,
these Catholic girls of ours, like white lilies surmounting and
disdaining a heap of filth. Seeing the fixed principles of
selfishness that were taught to modern youth, the Church feared
that perhaps her sons and daughters would follow the call of
Christ less willingly.
It would never do, at a time when the world so badly needed true
priests and faithful nuns, to see the supply of vocations
falling low. But once Catholic youth had looked upon this
simple Carmelite, the old love of Consecration leaped in a
She had prayed, they learned, that God would send good priests
into the world and bless their labours. "Perhaps," the young men
cried, "she prayed for me. Perhaps I can carry on the work for
which she pleaded with Christ and offered up her terrible
"It may be,'' young women said, when they read the story of her
life in the cloister, ''that God will let me enter His garden.
I, too, should like to come to Him a spotless bride and serve
Him in His house or in His school or as His devoted nurse.''
the inspiration of her life is filling, thank God, our priestly
ranks and our convents at just the time when vigorous
reinforcements are so badly needed.
Everyone that has ever glimpsed the Little Flower has come to
think better and more respectfully of the Faith. The Church
knows that dry principles and abstract reasoning do not convert
the mass of humanity. Men and women are best led by principles
which they see lived in beautiful lives.
The argument of example is the most powerful argument in the
world. So, with a gasp, non- Catholics have realised how
beautiful the principles of Catholicity must be when they flower
in so gorgeous a person. They cannot forget that the Little
flower was tended, cultivated, brought to full bloom in the
garden of the Catholic Church.
If the Church is to be known by its fruits, surely it will be
known by its lovely flowers. We, who must face the world and
meet it as Catholics, may be happy and proud that our times have
produced this saint.
Other ages have produced their holy men and women; she might have
been our sister. There is nothing remote or distant or legendary
about her; she belonged to our times, also to our own family.
She lived in our age with its peculiar difficulties and
temptations, and that makes her very, very close to our hearts.
So we turn to our daily tasks with renewed confidence born of
the fact that there is a Little Flower. Mine is the true Church, I
know; it alone mothers saints.
My life need not be commonplace or discouraged; the simplest
duties of a quiet life raised this child near to Christ Himself.
I shall not be afraid of temptations that surround me; a little
girl was strong enough to beat them. Let the world boast of its
inventions and discoveries; I shall boast in my secret heart
that the very Church that nurtured me has given mankind its
loveliest modern saint, who has done more to bring peace and
comfort to humankind, has filled the world with greater wonders,
and raised men to greater heights of courage and inspiration
than all the vaunted men of a century.
I shall be proud to kneel at the feet of the Little Flower and
ask her to take me with her safe to the Infant King.
The Novena Prayers for Day 9
Three Hail Marys in honour of the Little Flower for the
intention of the novena.
Let us pray:
St. Therese , faithful daughter of the Church, teach us love
and loyalty for the Catholic faith. Looking upon thee, we know
what children the Church can produce when they receive her
sacraments and follow the example of her saints. None, but she
has given saints to the world; only in her garden bloom flowers
like thee. But we know now our responsibilities, too.
We will strive to make our lives so fine and noble that those
who look upon them will be drawn to the truth and the beauty of
the Catholic Church. Knowing that example is the strongest
argument, we will try to make our lives living arguments for our
We will pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious
life. May thy life, Little Flower, inspire young men and women
with a desire to imitate thee in the service of Christ. Bless,
too, St. Therese, with thy continued protection the Church thou
didst so love. Bring unbelievers into the true fold.
Obtain grace for the missionaries struggling to convert the
pagans. Grant that those we love or for whom we are making this
novena may become more faithful and devoted sons and daughters
of the Faith, an inspiration to unbelievers, and a joy to Christ
whose spouse is the Church. Obtain for us the special favours we
are asking during this novena.
(Here pause and silently mention the special graces or blessings
you are seeking through the novena.)
V. We fly to thy protection and intercession, O Little Flower
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
O Lord, who hast said "Unless you become as little children, you
shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven," grant us, we beseech
Thee, so to follow the footsteps of the virgin St. Therese in
humility and simplicity of heart that we may obtain the rewards
of eternity. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
End of Chapter 9
End of Novena
+ D. MANNIX