To Cherish the Little White Rose

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The four rose bushes in my Marian garden represent each traditional color of the Mysteries of the Rosary: yellow/Glorious, red/Sorrowful, purple/Luminous, and white/Joyful.

Over the years, I’ve attempted to learn how to grow roses so they thrive. In the process, I’ve discovered that they take more care than other plants in my yard, and—which was news to me—each rose classification also has specific needs.

When the long-stem yellow rose blooms, it is beautifully formed and the picture of perfection, though it lacks fragrance. Of all the bushes, it is the most delicate. Its long slender stems are easily damaged by the slightest of storms. It looks so dramatic and pitiful with its thin branches bent to the ground, and its perfect bloom laying wilted against the mulch. A tragedy in a single stem.

I delight in the full-bodied bush of the red rose; its blooms of low petal count allow the fluffy yellow center to stand in glorious contrast. Its fragrance is refreshing and intense, filling the morning air with a yell “It is I, ROSE!” If it were a performer it would emphatically drop the mic in front of the crowd. Of all the roses, the winter consistently kills the red rose to the ground. Each spring, after cutting away the blackened dead-wood, I wait, certain that this is the year it hadn’t survived the winter. Weeks later than any of the other bushes, I am grateful to be proven wrong as multiple burgundy stems and dark shiny leaves push through the ground.

The purple floribunda is compact and sturdy, nearly wild in its habit. It haphazardly bursts into clusters of flowers, fragrant and fluffy. The five-bud groupings come and go with surprising rapidity. The blossoms open and melt in a synchrony of breaking bud and wilted death, leaving the bush in continuous state of messiness and anticipation.

It is the white rose that challenges me most. It has a classic rose shape in bud and flower—when it makes one. Its fragrance is rich and heady—if the bloom opens. Nothing I do is ever enough for it to thrive, and barely enough for it to survive.

I love white roses. They were my grandmother’s favorite, and she had a ten-foot wide trellis of white climbers each June. White roses are symbolic of Rosa Mystica, the white rose of Heaven without thorns, our Virgin Mother Mary, as she is called in the Litany of Loreto. I wanted to cherish a white rose bush planted near the Marian statue.

I researched cultivars to select the sturdiest rose for my Zone 5 garden. Bought one and planted it accordingly. The light is good, the soil rich, and I fertilized and watered appropriately.

And yet…and yet…

The little white rose bush is always under attack—by black spot, caterpillars, and especially Japanese beetles that bury themselves deep and relentlessly devour the petals.

I’ve learned that the pests of roses attack this white rose the most. Is it more tender and easier to consume? Are the petals more desirable, tasting ’sweeter’ to the bugs? The other bushes suffer very little, because the white rose is in the garden. It could be what is termed a trap-crop: a plant used to attract pests to prevent damage to the main crop.

That precious white rose, which never quite makes it to the fullness of beauty, has a purpose—it protects so that others may grow. That’s a special kind of beauty, all its own.

1 Corinthians 14:26

So what is to be done…when you assemble, one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything should be done for building up.

To Desire Only Jesus, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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Beloved Mother Mary,

Take the hand of your daughters, our Sisters and Nuns, and guide them to remain outside their personal wants and to desire only the repose in your son’s loving arms. Help them to place their hearts in his eternal joy, and protect these holy women when the hardness of this world tries to draw them away from his peace. Through your example of trust in God, may our Sisters and Nuns always persevere in fulfilling their call to consecrated lives.

Amen

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Offer this Day, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Divine Savior Jesus Christ,
Who has entrusted the whole work of your redemption, the welfare and salvation of the world to priests as Your representatives, through the hands of your most holy Mother and for the sanctification of your priests and candidates for the priesthood,
I offer you this present day wholly and entirely, with all its prayers, works, joys, sacrifices and sorrows.

Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of Your divine love, seek nothing but Your greater glory and the salvation of our souls.

And you, Mary, good Mother of priests, protect all priests in dangers of their holy vocation and, with the loving hand of a Mother, also lead back to the Good Shepherd these poor priests who have become unfaithful to their exalted vocation
and have gone astray.

Amen

~ Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P.

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St. Benedict’s Legacy and Horticulture

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July 11: St. Benedict of Nursia, ca. 480–547, Multiple Patronages; Horticulture

St. Benedict is a well-known and beloved saint, and there are volumes written about him. His guidance to other monks encouraged them to not fear, for all storms pass, to be humble, to trust in God, to receive all visitors as they would Christ, and to work and pray always.

Though St. Benedict did not intend to establish a religious order, he did intend for communities of monks to develop in specific and holy ways. St. Benedict also encouraged his followers to understand the relational nature of humans to each other, their neighbors, and the natural world. Part of his discipline for the monks was that all necessities for their living and providing for those in need should be supplied by the work of their own community. From within the monastery walls would come vegetables, fruit, dairy, fowl, fish, and provisions of medicinal and utilitarian herbs.

Because they were also scribes and illustrators, the Benedictines helped to preserve formulas for medicinal herbals and advanced horticultural gardening techniques. The Cistercians are another group of monks that developed from the Benedictines.

This order expanded horticultural knowledge in the area of agriculture. Because the Cistercians desired to revert back to the original intent of St. Benedict that a monastery should be self-sustaining, they became the main force of agriculture throughout Europe for the advancements of farming.

Throughout the centuries of working a garden with the humus of earth, the enormity of sky, and the labor of prayer, the monks of both orders were led into a harmonious and full life—a life of living and eating within the rhythm of nature.

St. Benedict did not develop his monasteries without opposition. He faced resistance from other groups of monks who did not appreciate the challenges he proposed to their somewhat privileged way of life. For this reason, several attempts were made against his life, all of which were miraculously averted.

Being unable to deter St. Benedict with murderous efforts, an attempt was made to draw shame on his brothers as they tended to their gardens. From the book The Golden Legend, the following story is told of a priest named Florentine who had often tried unsuccessfully to murder Benedict. Father Florentine then attempted to “slay spiritually the souls of his disciples.” He took seven maidens and sent them naked into the monastery garden to dance and sing “to move the monks to temptation”

St. Benedict knew that his monks were only mortal men and, fearing for their souls, immediately led them away from the monastery. When Florentine saw Benedict and his monks fleeing in great haste, he ecstatically joined the dancing maidens, rejoicing in his success. The celebration was short lived however, for very suddenly, and to the horror of the young women, the tower’s upper chamber collapsed upon the corrupt priest and sent him into eternity.

(Excerpt from A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac, Ave Maria Press, 2015, p.143-144)

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Embrace a Call, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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Lord Jesus Christ in your great love you draw all people to yourself, and in your wisdom you call us to your service. We pray at this time you will kindle in the hearts of women the desire to follow you in the Religious life. Give to those, whom you call, grace to accept their vocation readily and thankfully, to make the whole-hearted surrender which you ask of them, and for love of you, to persevere to the end.

Amen

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