Monday, December 10, 2012

Celebrating Thérèse

After a lot of prayer, Philip and I decided we wanted to celebrate our baby Thérèse's life formally with our family.  Thérèse will be buried at a Catholic cemetery, but there will be no formal burial ceremony.  (I'll go into the logistics and hoops I had to go through to set all of that up another time.)  Instead of a memorial Mass, we decided to gather our family and my Bible study girlfriends together to pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and have a dessert reception afterward.  

We met on Sunday at our parish Our Lady Chapel.  Isn't it beautiful?

The space was perfect for our intimate prayer time together.  Philip and I wanted to make sure that everyone there felt that they were active participants, so we made a few preparations.  

First, we typed up a program.  On the front were our family's intentions for each of the five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and a small note of thanks:


Please Join Us In

Praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

To Celebrate the Life of
Thérèse Patricia Boucher

The First Glorious Mystery – The Resurrection We pray for the gift of strong faith--both in times of sorrow and joy.  May we always find hope in the Resurrection of Christ.  Let us ask Mary for the gift of an unshakeable faith.

The Second Glorious Mystery – The Ascension
We pray that our lives are a sign of hope for others.  In times of sorrow, grant us the grace to remain hopeful, trust in God’s will, and remember the promise of salvation.

The Third Glorious Mystery – The Descent of the Holy Spirit
We pray for a deepening in awareness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  May we use them to show our love of God and each other.  Help each of us to be a faithful disciple and steward of Your gifts. 

The Fourth Glorious Mystery – The Assumption We pray that each of us will model our lives after the faithfulness of Mary and rejoice in God’s faithfulness to us.  We pray for the grace to obediently answer God’s call in our lives and joyfully accept His will for us.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery – The Coronation

We pray for a deeper devotion to Mary, our spiritual mother and intercessor in heaven.   Mary, draw us close to your Immaculate Heart, where we may take refuge in times of trouble.  

Thank you for your prayers and for all of the different ways you have helped us this past month.  We ask for your prayers as we continue to heal.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends. 


Catherine, Philip,

Jane, and Walt

On the back, we wanted to provide a typed-up guide with the various prayers of the Rosary as well as their order.  Rosary Army is an apostolate dedicated to spreading devotion to the Rosary throughout the world.  They have a fantastic PDF that we downloaded and printed on the backside of the program.  I think this was a beautiful guide for those unfamiliar with the Rosary to follow along.  

PDF from Rosary Army
Since we have so many young nephews and nieces, we wanted to be sure and include them in this special Rosary for their cousin.  Ahead of time, we asked them if they would be willing to lead our family in a decade of the Rosary.  We decided to "spice things up" a bit by using the Rosary Army Scriptural Rosary for the Glorious Mysteries.  The Scriptural Rosary brings the Mysteries of the Rosary to life by incorporating verses of Scripture that pertain to each Mystery before each Hail Mary.  (Rosary Army has a version of the Scriptural Rosary for each of the Mysteries of the Rosary.)  We printed off "scripts" for our nephews and niece to practice ahead of time.

When it was time, we gathered in the chapel, handed out the programs, distributed Rosaries (some belonged to great-great-grandmothers), and Philip started our prayer time together.  He welcomed everyone, thanked them for coming, and explained that we would be praying the special intentions on the front of the program.  To help keep everyone's focus, we purchased 8"x10" images of the Mysteries of the Rosary from our local Catholic bookstore.  To make them last longer, I laminated them.  We brought a stand to prop them up on the altar in the middle of the chapel for everyone to focus on as we prayed. 

The Resurrection image laminated and propped up on the stand we used
I hope our family will develop a devotion to the Rosary and other special prayers, so I decided to put together a little prayer binder to store our prayer materials.  I stored the laminated images of the Mysteries of the Rosary in the divider pockets and printed off the Scriptural Rosary that accompanies the various mysteries.  I separated them by category and left room with future dividers to add other novenas or special prayers for our family prayer time together.

To set the tone and demonstrate how to lead the decades, Philip lead the introductory prayers and First Glorious Mystery.  Since he's Super Dad, he managed to do that and hold Walt in his arms while Janie and I sat in the chairs.  In that moment, watching him lead a Rosary for our baby in heaven as he held another one of our babies in his arms, I felt as though my heart could burst.  I prayed in thanksgiving to God for giving me such a wonderful, godly man to be the head of our family.  

With each decade, we changed the image on the stand and our nephews and niece took turns leading us in prayer.  Their innocence and reverence helped all of us to slow down and meditate on the words as they read them.  I was blown away by how naturally they led the room full of people in prayer!  The future of the Church is alive and well!  When I explained to my 8-year-old nephew how the Rosary was going to work and what he was going to do, he said, "Wow!  Cool!  This is going to be so awesome!"  I don't think my nephews or niece will ever know what their participation in our family Rosary means to me and Philip, but we are so grateful.

After the Rosary, we headed back to our house for a little reception.  Philip and I prepared some treats and snacks and had some refreshments.  The bad news is I forgot to take a picture of the spread because I was busy visiting with everyone and playing hostess.  The good news is I was so busy enjoying everyone's company that I wasn't spending the time snapping pictures!  We did manage to get a picture of the reindeer cookies ahead of time, though.  (To make the "antlers," I used chocolate-covered tree pretzels cut in half.)

I found some absolutely gorgeous red roses from a nearby grocery store floral department.  It's as though they were meant for our Rosary for Thérèse.  They weren't in the case the first time I looked through the flowers.  I was going to settle on some white spray roses and pink alstroemeria, but I decided to think about it while I went to the bakery to pick up the chocolate-covered pretzels for the reindeer cookies.  When I came back, the florist said, "excuse me" as she put this beautiful arrangement of a dozen red roses inside the case.  As an added bonus, they were "on special" at half off what they would have cost if I had called in to order a dozen roses!  (Have you ever heard of St. Thérèse of Lisieux bringing people roses after they pray a novena to her?  Well, I think this was our own "Little Flower" in heaven saying, "Here, Mom!  Do you like these?")

Philip's family gave us some beautiful red, white, and pink roses.  Whether it was a happy coincidence or intentional, I love that they picked roses for our Little Flower, Thérèse, as well.
I am so thankful that my dear girlfriends from my Bible study were able to join us.  One of my friends, Annie, gave me a beautiful present to remember Thérèse and the day we prayed the Rosary for her.  It's the most precious itty bitty little Rosary I've ever seen!  The delicate little pink beads are for our little girl, she said, and she hopes it will be a treasured Rosary for Thérèse's siblings as they get older.  I know I'll treasure it forever! 
My oldest brother and sister-in-law also gave me an incredible keepsake and present.  They said it was a "belated" birthday present, but I think they gave it to me at just the right time.  It's a beautiful locket necklace from Origami Owl with little charms inside.  From left to right, there is: a cross, an angel baby, a baby's footprint, and a "T" for Thérèse.  I wore it the night of the Rosary, and I've been wearing it all day today, too.  It's such a special, thoughtful gift and reminder of our precious baby.
Aside from the very thoughtful presents, Philip and I were so overwhelmed by the response we received from our family members and friends.  Over and over again, individual family members or friends took each of us aside throughout the afternoon to tell us how beautiful and special the Rosary and reception were.  They said that they were "so glad we did this."  Several teared up as they thanked me for including them and gave me big hugs.   

Thérèse deserved to be celebrated and prayed for.  We are so glad we shared that day with others because they needed it, too.  Philip and I went to bed last night saying how to-the-core happy and at peace we feel knowing that our prayer warrior, Thérèse, is in heaven, and that we have so many wonderful people on earth lifting us up in prayer.

When we found out Thérèse died and that I would be miscarrying, Philip said we were lucky to have the extra motivation to get our entire family to heaven since we knew one of our babies was already there.  Now that more than a month has passed, nothing gives my life more purpose and truth than those words.  My life's mission is to get Philip and the rest of our children to heaven.  Having hope in my vocation brings me strength, joy, and peace.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is just beautiful Catherine! What a celebration of a beautiful life, even though it was so short. Your love and devotion to our Lord is so beautiful and it is so special that you did find such a loving and godly spouse to share that with. Thank you for sharing such a precious moment with all of us. God bless you and your family. Love, Laura