Sunday, April 4, 2010

Little Flowers for the Risen Lord

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!  He is Alive!  Alleluia!

Last year, in a different state and parish, I was honored to be a leader for a local Little Flowers Girls' Club group.  Each year, we study nine different virtues and nine Catholic female saints who embody these virtues.  Our primary model is the Blessed Mother, and the club gets its name from its patron, St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as "The Little Flower".

The girls earn special badges for each virtue, which are sewn into a flower shape on blue sashes.  I wanted to honor the girls' accomplishments in a special ceremony at Mass, so I approached our pastor, Father X  about the idea.  (He enthusiastincally supported our club and even funded it through the parish.)  Father X suggested that the ceremony take place on Easter Sunday, but I hesitated, thinking that such a special feast should not be "shared" with another ceremony, but Father X insisted that it take place on Easter.

I prayed about how to incorporate a badge ceremony with Easter Sunday, and recalled a book I had read about Mary.  The author wrote of the importance of women at the tomb of the risen Lord and how their bringing the good news of the Resurrection to the Apostles was a reversal of Eve bringing sin to Adam.  I incorporated that revelation into the script, which follows:

Good morning and Happy Easter! I’m Peggy Bowes, and I’m the leader of the XXX chapter of the Little Flowers Girls’ Club. We began the Club two years ago with five girls, and this year we have grown to 15. Today we will perform a badge ceremony to recognize the efforts of these young ladies as they learn about their Catholic faith, heritage and traditions while forming lasting friendships.

Our aim is not to overshadow the importance of this Holy Day, but to show how our young members are learning to become more Christ-like through the imitation of His beloved Mother.

The presence of women at the tomb of the risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday is documented in all four gospels. According to the early Church Fathers, their presence goes all the way back to Eve in the book of Genesis:

In the Garden of Eden, a woman (Eve) was witness to the downfall and death of the human race. However, on the day of the Resurrection, the women at the empty tomb of Jesus witness the New Life granted to the human race.

As Little Flowers, we strive to imitate the virtues modeled by Our Blessed Mother, our patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux, and the various women saints we study each meeting. We hope that more young girls in our parish will join us next year. I’ll let a few of the girls summarize what we have studied this year.

1st girl:
We have spent the last six months studying and practicing six virtues. As we learn about each virtue, we also learn about a female saint who modeled that virtue. We earn badges through prayer, study and works of charity. The badges are shaped like petals and form a flower for each year of the program. Our sashes are blue to help us remember the example of Mary, and we have earned our patches through prayer, study and works of charity. The flowers in our hair and the candles we carried in represent the virtues we have studied.

2nd girl:
The first virtue we studied was Faith, represented by the lily. We learned about the Apostle of Mercy, St. Faustina, and Divine Mercy Sunday, which we celebrate next week. Then we studied Joy and St. Claire of Assisi, represented by the tulip. We all earned a St. Claire medal by making over 100 Christmas cards for the female prisoners in the local prison.

3rd girl:
Our next virtue was courage, represented by the yucca flower. We learned about Blessed Margaret Pole who was martyred for her faith. Then we studied Generosity and St. Katherine Drexel. The daisy reminds us to be generous, and we modeled that virtue by making Valentines and passing them out to the residents of a local nursing home.

4th girl:
The last two virtues are Prudence and Wisdom. St. Angela Merici is our model for Prudence, which is represented by the violet. We learned of the Wisdom of St. Theresa Benedicta, and the irises help us to remember to be wise. We will study three more virtues this year: Justice, Loyalty, and Perseverance.
The girls executed the ceremony perfectly!  After Mass, at Father X's suggestion, the girls handed out little badges that pictured the virtues in a flower shape.  We received many compliments on the ceremony, and I think that we enhanced, rather than detracted from, the Easter celebration.

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