Back in the summer of 2012, I received a precious inheritance from my deceased maternal grandparents: an authentic relic of one of my most beloved saints, St. Therese of Lisieux. I wrote this post about it not long after this heavenly gift, along with an authentic relic of St. Catherine Laboure, came into my life, if you're interested in reading it.
I keep St. Catherine on a shelf in our living room at home, and I stop by to visit her there often. She is dear to me because of her association with the Miraculous Medal, which I wear always. But I love St. Therese--she of the "Little Way"-- in a very special way, and she is always with me. I keep her relic in a zippered cloth pouch that is embroidered with an icon of the Blessed Mother and the Baby Jesus (a souvenir from the time I tagged along on one of my husband's working trips to Athens). That pouch is always in my purse, or in my carry-on bag when I fly. It is especially comforting to me to have St. Therese along when I'm on an airplane, because I'm a recovering white knuckle flyer and she is the patron saint of aviators. I figure she'll take care of those guys up front--whether that means so that the flight will land safely, or so that if it doesn't, the souls on board will suffer as little as possible and be ready to meet their Maker.
Yes, this is the way my brain operates. This is the way I think every time I board an airplane (which happens A LOT these days--and you know this if you stop by String of Pearls very often). So I thought it would be well nigh impossible for me to ever let that St. Therese relic out of my sight.
But I found someone who needs her more than I do right now.
I have a sister-in-law (who just so happens to have been named after Our Blessed Mother and St. Therese) whose husband was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive type of cancer some months back. Today, he will undergo a grueling 13-hour surgical procedure on his lung, and if all goes well, his post-op recovery will take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. This brother-in-law was raised a Lutheran; but because of my sister-in-law's quiet yet persuasive example, he is planning to convert to Catholicism as soon as he can schedule his RCIA classes. In fact, the first thing he said when he was diagnosed was that he didn't want to put it off any longer, because he didn't want to die before he became a Catholic.
Wow, how's that for inspiring?
Last week, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision and handed my brother-in-law that zippered pouch, with the precious cargo inside of it, and told him that I wanted him to have it with him while he's going through his surgery and recovery.
I am on a bus to Boston right now, to be there with my sister-in-law on this, the most difficult day of her life. I got a text from her not too long ago saying that her husband was holding onto that relic while he was waiting to be taken down for surgery. That childlike faith in St. Therese's intercession, coming from a man who wasn't raised to know her and hasn't even been sacramentally received into the Church yet, is so touching that it brings tears to my eyes. I pray that she continues to provide him with comfort and solace in the weeks to come.
Please pray that my brother-in-law's surgery today will be a success. And continue to pray for this wonderful couple, that they will have the strength to endure whatever trials they will face on his road to recovery.