Mother lives in a different state from me, and we don’t phone each other that often. It’s that way with all my English family members – we simply don’t chat to each other except when we really have something to say.
So it was lucky the friend was trying to contact her, and became concerned when there was no answer.
I worried that my mother might be close to death and I feared for her salvation, as she had left the Church many decades ago. Worse, she was very anti-Catholic, hated the English Mass, ("it should have stayed in Latin") and had a grudge against priests and God.
None of which bode well for her making it to Heaven!
Intercession is at Hand
So before I flew over to visit her in hospital, I told my parish priest of my anxiety.
He gave me the relic of someone I’d never heard of before. It was a piece of the veil of Mother Therese of Jesus inside a tiny plastic case, which included a photo of the nun and the words of a novena.
“She is up for canonization,” Father said. “Pray this novena to her, and if it works, return the relic to me.”
No Pressure, Then!
The novena now had to work for two reasons: first, because I wanted Mother reconciled to God, and second, I wanted to help Mother Therese become canonized!
Before my flight, I emailed the novena to a Catholic friend of mine who had offered to pray it for my mother, too. Thank goodness I did, because two days into my trip I somehow mislaid the relic. At least I had a copy of the prayer and could continue with the novena, even if I no longer had the piece of veil.
But I now found myself in a difficult position: if the relic worked, I had to return it. But since I’d lost it, I couldn’t give it back. So was I supposed to hope it wouldn’t work, so that I didn’t have to return it?!
Reading about her life, it’s clear that Mother Therese had a great sense of humor, and she must have appreciated my ridiculous dilemma. I can still see her smiling.
Even after the nine days were up I continued to pray the words of the novena daily to her.
I flew home, and soon afterwards went out to dinner with my husband and son to a local restaurant. As we were walking back to our car, my husband said, “There’s Father!”
I had been dreading telling him about the missing relic, but here was a God-given opportunity to get the confession over with. I said a quick ‘hello,’ then blurted out “I’ve lost the icon!”
He looked a bit confused then said, “You mean the relic?”
I nodded miserably, and he continued, “Then ask Mother Therese to help you find it. I’m sure she will.” I had to admire his fortitude.
My Birthday Present
On my birthday I received an email from a Catholic friend of Mother’s, after visiting her in rehabilitation. She had taken a rosary in with her and placed it round my mother’s neck, then asked Mother if she was interested in seeing a priest?
Mother nodded and asked to see her friend’s parish priest, whom she had already met. Ecstatic, the friend called Father Eric.
What a birthday present for me that email was!
The following day, Father Eric came to see my mother. She received the Last Sacrament - now called the Anointing of the Sick - and Final Absolution.
Alleluia! I have wanted this for her salvation for decades.
Once I got over the shock of my prayers' success, I felt a sense of profound peace. A soul saved! What a miracle!
It took an incapacitating stroke for my mother to reflect on the world to come and the importance of being reconciled with God.
I’ve since been out to see her again, and she was so proud to let me know that she goes to Mass whenever it is offered in her place of rehabilitation (which is Lutheran) and she also goes to Vespers when it is available.
Thank You, Mother Therese of Jesus!
I have emailed the nuns at Mother Therese’s Carmelite convent in Pennsylvania letting them know about the miracle their deceased Mother Superior has brought about.
I do hope it furthers that lovely lady’s cause. When she was exhumed in 2001, they discovered her body was still intact. This has happened with several saints in Europe but is apparently very rare in the U.S.
The Power of Prayer
I put all the confidence in God that I could muster into praying that novena. I had been worried about Mother’s soul for so long, and had to do something to save it: time was running out.
With Mother Therese’s help, and using Mother’s friend as His instrument, God gave me my miracle. It just goes to show how powerful prayers can be, if sent up with true confidence in God’s help.
P.S. I’ve also asked the Carmelite nuns if there’s any chance of a replacement relic for me to return to my parish priest. Wish me luck!