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Fr. Emmanuel Salifu writes: A bouquet of Roses

The first time I had the privilege of being presented with a bouquet of flowers was during my ordination. It’s a beautiful gesture that often people in love use to express their love for one another. Very often it comes with a card, and the goal of the one who sent the flowers is to ensure that his captivating words would be accompanied by the sweet scent of the bouquet.

The bouquet engages all the senses of the one who received it: the soft touch of the flowers, the scent, the sight of their beauty and the words that are both read and heard. This is what whets ones appetite in longing for the lover who sent the flowers. Our faith teaches us that imbedded in the love between a man and a woman is the revelation of the love between God and man; between Christ and his church. This is why in catholic tradition prayer bouquet forms an integral part of spiritual life.

What then is a spiritual bouquet? If between lovers a bouquet of flowers expresses their love, then a spiritual bouquet works in the same way. They are prayers (bouquet cards) that are sent to our lover who receiving them, embraces our touch, our words, our sweet fragrance, our kisses, our beauty and our desire. Spiritual bouquet also has another dimension; where between us we give to each other the assurance of our prayers as a gift, helping each other to get closer to the one who loves us.

Concrete examples may help us appreciate what is under consideration. There are for example mass cards, designed like all other cards (birthday, anniversary etc) in which a person who wants to offer mass for a friend or family for whatever reason, attends mass with the intention of this person after which the priest signs with the date of the Mass.

This card is then presented to such a friend with the assurance that his prayer to his lover, God, has been offered in the Holy Eucharist. The same can be done with other devotions that are undertaken for the intension of one who seeks our intercessory prayers.

In the month of October, the rosary is presented as a means by which we can present a bouquet of flowers to God either for ourselves or on behalf of a brother or a sister. The word rosary itself reveals this old age tradition of presenting flowers to God, our lover. Rosary literary means a garden of roses; from this garden we put together the finest flowers there are and present them to God.

In this garden we present to God memories of his Son who is our brother as we accompany these memories (mysteries) with little cards that have written on them our intentions. The word memory in this context has the nuance of the liturgical memory. Liturgical memory is not just a recalling of a past events but a “making present”, a “re-presenting” of the effects of the Christ-event (his life, death and resurrection).

The effect or better still the grace of Jesus are always made present whenever we call to mind his salvific actions. This is why reading scripture is powerful. It is not a reading of a past history but its reading evokes grace to its reader or listener: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrew 4:12).

In the Holy rosary we pray with the word of God calling to mind the various key moments of the life of Christ: His joyful mystery, His Luminous mystery, His sorrowful mystery and His glorious mystery. We use the word mystery in the context of Paul who explains that mystery is the hidden plans of God for mankind revealed in Christ; his life, death and resurrection (cf. Ephesians 1:7-9; 3:2).

In the rosary we offer ourselves (our intentions) together with the roses of the mystery of Christ to the Father (cf. Rom. 12:1). In all this we never pray alone and we never present these roses alone; we do so with she who is herself the rose of God, Mary.

Source: Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Salifu

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