THE WREATH OF FLOWERS
This story can be found on Kathryn's CK101 page. The story teaches us a very important truth so we decided to also make it a page of it's own so nobody misses it! This CK101 story is inspired by a version that was first told by the Daughters of Charity almost 100 years ago. It's called: The Wreath of Flowers.
THE WREATH OF FLOWERS
Once upon a time there lived a little boy named Elijah. He lived with his loving parents and also his little pup Gracie. They all lived happily together in a place where it was summertime all year round. The sky was nearly always blue and the birds always sang sweetly in the trees. There were always many beautiful flowers in bloom and a very amazing thing often happened. When it did rain, the sun would often shine at the same time! Elijah did not know what winter was like. He never saw snow or ice. He never felt a cold wind. Jack Frost never bit his nose. He never had to stay inside to keep warm. But once he had to stay in his house for six long weeks. The reason was because Elijah became ill. He became very ill. As each day and then each week went by, he grew weaker and weaker. Sadly, the doctor told Elijah's father that there was nothing more he could do to help his little Elijah get better. Of course, Elijah's dear mother took excellent care of him. She stayed by Elijah's side night and day. She often cried. She did not want Elijah to die. At last this poor mother said to her grief stricken husband, "I will ask the Blessed Mother to obtain a cure for our little Elijah. I will pray and ask her for help."
Elijah's mother carefully wrapped him up in a cozy blanket and then gently picked up her dying son. She carried him outside where there was a magnificent garden. Little pup Gracie followed them. At the end of the path was a lovely statue of our Blessed Mother Mary. Elijah's mother laid her son on the soft ground at the feet of the statue. Then she wiped her tear-filled eyes and prayed, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, my little child is very, very sick. Please, will you ask your Son to make him well again? You loved your little Jesus very much. You understand how much my heart hurts right now because you are also a Mother who held her Son in her arms. If you obtain a cure for little Elijah, his father and I will teach him that that he must always love you and your Son very much. We will teach him to show his love for you every single day."
When she finished her prayer, Elijah suddenly let out a big sigh. He opened his eyes, lifted his head and looked all around the garden. He then looked up at his mother with a big smile and exclaimed, "Mama! Mama! I feel all better!"
Our Blessed Mother had prayed for Elijah and now he was well again! Elijah's mother was so happy! She picked up Elijah and kissed his rosy cheeks. Then she said through her happy tears, "The Mother of God has obtained this cure for you by her prayers, my little one! You must always love her and her Son very much!"
Every day after that, Elijah and Gracie would go out through the garden and Elijah would pick many beautiful flowers. He would make them into a wreath and then take it to the statue of Our Lady and put the wreath of flowers at her feet. Then he would kneel down and pray, "Holy Mother of God and my Mother, I give you this wreath of flowers to show you that I love you! I thank you for all you have done for me. Help me to keep my soul pure. Help me to love your Son! Please bless my father and my mother." Then Elijah would pray one "Hail Mary." When he had finished praying out loud, he would sit at the feet of the beautiful statue and look up into the big blue sky. He liked to sit and think about Our Lady and her little Boy Jesus. After awhile, he would get up, blow the statue a kiss and then he and Gracie would walk the lovely flower-edged path back to their home.
The years came and went and little Elijah grew up to be a fine young man. He still made a wreath of flowers for Our Lady every day. Elijah loved our Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus even more now than when he was a little boy.
One evening Elijah came back into the house after making a wreath of flowers and said to his mother, "I must go away, my dear mother. I must leave you and father."
"What do you mean, my son?" asked Elijah's mother.
"I must go away and live high up in the great mountains where the Carmelite Fathers and Brothers live. Our Lady wishes me to go there for I believe I will find my vocation as a religious brother in the Carmelite order. I must go and pray very much for the needs of the Church and the world. I especially must pray for the conversion of big sinners. I will pray that they will turn from their wicked ways and love and follow Jesus."
Elijah's mother was both sad and glad at the same time. She was sad because she and her husband would miss Elijah very much! But she was glad that Jesus and Our Lady wished Elijah to be a religious brother. What a wonderful vocation! Big tears came to her eyes. She wiped the tears now spilling down her cheeks and then finally said with a smile, "Blessed be God! Blessed be Our Lady! I am so glad for you my son!"
Then she held Elijah close to her heart and kissed him on the head, just like she had done many times before when he was a boy.
And so Elijah traveled far away from home. He went up, up, up to live in the mountains. He did become a religious brother in the Carmelite order and he was very happy. However, with the passing of the first year, one of the Carmelite priests named Father James noticed that Brother Elijah seemed sad. He seemed to have lost his joy. Father decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with Brother Elijah.
"Brother Elijah, I have been watching you," began Father James. "You were very happy when you first arrived here and now I can see that you are sad. Why are you so sad, Brother? Why have you lost your joy? Tell me what has changed."
Brother Elijah was standing and looking out the large picture window. He said, "Father James, please come here and look out the window. Tell me what you see."
Father James was a bit surprised by this request. He went over to the window and took a long look. Then he said, "I see the beautiful pure white snow falling ever so gently." Father looked at Brother Elijah and continued, "But Brother, that is not strange. It is always cold and snowy up here in the mountains. As you know, we have snow all year round."
"Yes," said Brother Elijah. "That is just what I mean. That is why I have become so sad. In the place where I lived until I came here, I only saw summer. Every single day since I was a very small boy, I gathered the flowers that grew in abundance on our property and made a beautiful wreath of flowers for our Blessed Lady. I would put that wreath at the foot of the lovely white statue in our family's garden." He paused and looked back out the window. "Father James, now every evening that passes by, I have unexpectedly found myself growing more and more sad because I cannot show my love for Our Lady in this way anymore."
Father James gazed on Brother Elijah with great love. He smiled and said, "Do not be sad anymore, Brother!" Then he pointed to the sturdy black Rosary that was hanging from the side of Brother Elijah's brown habit. "That is the wreath of flowers that our dear Lady loves even more than those that you gave her from your family garden! When you say the prayers of our Blessed Mother's Rosary, every "Our Father," every "Hail Mary," and every "Glory Be," is like a beautiful flower. The Holy Angels take our prayers and make them into the most exquisite wreath of flowers and lay them at Our Blessed Mother's feet in Heaven for us. She is overjoyed to receive these wreaths because the flowers will never fade or die. Why, they bloom forever!"
Brother Elijah took his Rosary in his hands and kissed it. He was instantly filled with joy again! He now understood that he could show his love for our Blessed Mother by making many beautiful Heavenly wreaths of flowers for her by praying his Rosary!
Now a time came when Father James found himself in a situation where he needed to have a very important letter delivered to another Carmelite monastery that was located far away. After thinking and praying about it, he finally decided to send Brother Elijah and Brother Joseph to hand deliver this extremely important document. So Brother Elijah and Brother Joseph soon left their Carmelite monastery in the mountains to accomplish this important mission. They had walked for many days when they came to a big woods. They had nearly reached the other side when Brother Joseph said, "Brother Elijah, it is evening and we have walked all day. Let us sit on this log and rest a little while before continuing." So they sat down to take a little rest. Then Brother Elijah said, "Brother Joseph, the sun is going to be setting soon. Let us pray a Rosary. You know this is the hour that I always make a wreath of Heavenly flowers for our Blessed Lady." So the brothers took their Rosaries in their hands, knelt down, closed their eyes and began to pray.
Now unknown to the brothers, two men dressed all in black were quietly sneaking up behind them. These men were very wicked men. They were robbers. They were so wicked that sometimes they would even hurt the people they were robbing. Each of the men held a club (like a little baseball bat) in their hands. They crept closer and closer to the brothers. They were just about to lift their arms up to strike the brothers with their clubs with the intention of robbing them when they suddenly stopped because they couldn't see anything! Everything went completely dark! Then a very bright light shone on and around them. As their eyes adjusted, they saw the brothers again, kneeling and praying their Rosaries. But they also saw many, many Holy Angels! The robbers watched in utter amazement as the Angels took the prayers from the brothers and made two exquisitely beautiful wreaths of flowers. Then they watched the Angels ascend upwards and were stunned to see the most beautiful woman dressed all in white standing above them! The Holy Angels placed these two lovely wreaths of flowers at her feet. Then the robbers heard Brother Elijah say, "Brother Joseph, let us offer Our Blessed Lady another Rosary. I feel inspired to ask her for special graces tonight. We will ask her to obtain from her Son the conversion of men who are very big sinners. We will pray that these men will stop sinning and turn to Jesus." Brother Joseph heartily agreed and the two brothers started another Rosary. Once again, the Holy Angels took the prayers from the brothers and began making two more beautiful wreaths of flowers! The two robbers looked and looked. They began to remember all of their many sins. They began to feel awful thinking about the evil deeds they had committed. They dropped their clubs and then they dropped to their knees. They cried out from the bottom of their hearts, "O God! Lord Jesus! Have mercy on us! Holy Mary, pray for us!"
Just then, the brothers finished their second Rosary. They stood up and turned around, astonished to see two men dressed all in black on their knees, crying out for God's mercy! The robbers then knelt at the feet of the brothers, admitted their evil intentions and begged forgiveness. Then they told the brothers about the Holy Angels, the beautiful Lady and all they had seen!
Brother Elijah showed the two men the Crucifix at the end of his Rosary and said, "Our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered and died on the Cross to save every single one of us from our sins. He will gladly forgive you all your sins if you are truly sorry!" The two men nodded their heads and cried, "We are sorry! Truly sorry!"
Then the brothers helped the two men to their feet and embraced them. "We should arrive at the Carmelite monastery by midnight." explained Brother Elijah. "A priest will hear your Confessions when we get there."
And from that very day onward, those two men never again did a single evil deed. They lived very good and holy lives and prayed many Rosaries that the Holy Angels made into many, many beautiful wreaths of flowers for our Blessed Mother in Heaven!
"If you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love,
Our Lady will make sure to lead you very far along her Son's path."
Saint Josemaría Escrivá