On Wednesday I spoke to the children at the Primary School about St. Therese and the visit of her relic(s). I spoke for almost 30 minutes. The children were very well behaved, and I know many of them listened closely because a parishioner told me that her granddaughter came home saying that she had to go to see the relics and that Therese had a sister called Pauline. The little girl was told that this was wrong because "they didn't have names like that in those days". On Thursday, when I celebrated the school Mass in honour of St. Therese, I mentioned Pauline again and the grandmother was suitably chastened!
These are heady days. We are being graced. I know I am not the only one who has sensed something in the air. I find myself speaking of "presence" in reference to the saint. I have had some strange experiences in prayer, and from what others tell me, this is not unusual at the moment. I cannot go into too much detail because I am not sure how much I am allowed to say about others' experiences. But I will say this; two people who are in great need (one a sick child) have either been "invited" (and I mean this seriously) by the saint or have expressed a great determination, rather like that of the saint herself, to be near the relics. In one of these cases, the invitation is clearly supernatural (and I mean that).
For myself, I feel profoundly grateful that the relics are here in England in this special Year of Priests. As is well-known, Therese understood that a major part of her life as a Carmelite nun was her intercession for priests, and in a special way for those on the Missions. I understand the Carmelites have just restated that this is part of their vocation. When I was just beginning my preparation for the priesthood, it was suggested (by a fellow student) that I seek a "spiritual mother". I wrote the Carmelites at Kirk Edge, near Sheffield, and was given Sr. Mary of the Assumption. She has been praying for me for 34 years. She has done far more for me than I can ever do for her, and through her prayers, I believe I have been graced in ways I would not have been otherwise.
I was thinking today that this visit of St. Therese's relics could be a kind of preparation for the visit of the Pope, especially since he will beatify Newman. With all that has gone wrong (and is still going wrong) with the Church in England and Wales, it seems we are being greatly blessed - and perhaps it will bring much healing. As we know, we do not receive God's mercy (a key concept for Therese) because we are worthy of it, but because we desperately need it!