If you didn’t know this by now, or you haven’t ever read my blog before today, I have a pretty giant devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. For years and years now I have prayed a monthly novena to her, starting on the first of the month and ending on the ninth of the month. It has been said that the October novena to her is especially meaningful because it starts on her feast day, October 1st. When I worked at the Archdiocese the guys in the office used to joke that on October 9th you could walk up to just about any Catholic girl with a rose in hand and say, “I’m the answer to your novena.” Smooth Catholic lines…
Anyway, there are different novenas you can pray to her. Some of the most popular can be found here. As I, along with hundreds of thousands of Catholics (I’m going to guess mostly female) prepare to end our novenas to St. Thérèse tomorrow, I thought I would take a look back at the prayer that typically accompanies day one of the novena. It concludes with the individual mentioning their specific prayer request/novena intention and then says, “But if what I ask of you does not tend to the greater glory of God and the greater good of my soul, do you, I pray, obtain for me that which is more profitable to both these ends.” God only knows how many novenas I have prayed to St. Thérèse in the last few years, but this month that line struck me in a way it never had before.
Sometimes we think our intentions are good, and sometimes, they really are. But just because they are good intentions doesn’t necessarily mean that our intention is what God wants. Sometimes the intention may be good in and of itself, but isn’t, in the long run, good for my soul. I once prayed this novena for a job that I was interviewing for at the time. The job was a good job that would have brought glory to God and would have probably been good for my soul. On the last day of the novena, I got a rose, a single, beautiful, pink rose. I later got the job and accepted it. Over time the job wasn’t as great as I had hoped it would be, but I kept returning to the novena that St. Thérèse had answered. I knew that job was where I needed to be, but I didn’t know how long I would need to be there for. The job became miserable, so I started praying to St. Thérèse again. In time, she once again revealed to me, through the gift of a rose, that it was time to leave. She showed me that leaving would not only be good for my soul, it would glorify God. But both ends had to come about.
We need to pursue both goods in our life. What may profit my soul, or rather, what I think will profit my soul may not actually bring glory to God. What brings glory to God may not be good for my soul. How is that possible? Sometimes we are misled and think that taking this nice, well-paying job will profit my soul (literally and figuratively), but what that job will do to us over time may not bring glory to God. What brings glory to God, i.e. sacrifice, may not always be good for my soul. I may wrongly think that I am sacrificing for the glory of God, when in fact He isn’t calling me to sacrifice at all. That is exactly why we pray that prayer in the novena to St. Thérèse. If our intentions do not bring about both the glory of God, and the good of our souls, then we give her, and God, full permission to give us that which does profit both ends. I may pray a novena for a new car, but if that car won’t benefit my soul, nor bring glory to God, then I don’t want it. Our first goal is His glory, and then the good of our own souls. Remember “Thy will be done”? That’s the essence of this prayer, one we all to easily forget.
Lord, may all that I do bring glory to you, and save my soul. If what I do does not both bring you glory and preserve my soul, set me on Your path once again. Forgive me, a sinner. AMEN.
What I’m Listening To:
“Wanted” by Hunter Hayes
“Help Me Hold On” by Travis Tritt
“My Love, My Enemy” by Dave Barnes
“This Moment Now” by Tyrone Wells