Little Flower

Posted on 19 February 2010

In December of 1995, my brother Anthony and his fiancé Palma asked me to be the best man at their wedding.  As Anthony had lost his first wife in July of the previous year, this was to be his second marriage.

A meeting was arranged for Palma’s family and ours, at the home of Robert, Anthony’s son; we were preparing to celebrate their wedding.  My wife and I arrived early, and were greeted by my brother and his fiancé as well as my nephew and his family.  Soon other guests arrived, and we exchanged introductions.  Trying to be congenial, I struck up a conversation with Palma’s son in-law, whose name was Tom.  As we both had the same first name, I felt that we had some things in common.  

As we talked of “cabbages and kings,” Tom’s family and grandchildren arrived.  With the arrival of each of his grandchildren, Tom would greet them by placing his hand on their heads.  Making the Sign of the Cross with his thumb, he said, “Little Flower, at the hour, show your power.“   

Out of curiosity, I asked him about this blessing, which I had never heard before. Tom told me that growing up in an Irish Catholic family, he had learned to be an altar boy under the direction of an elderly priest named Father Kirk.  One day, Father Kirk told him, “If at any time in your life you need help, recite this prayer:  “Little Flower, at the hour, show your power.”

As I continued speaking with Tom, we discovered that we had something else in common.  When I’d mentioned that I was a veteran of World War II, he stated that he was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  This opened up a whole new field of conversation, and as old soldiers never die, we talked. 

I told him about my experiences in the U.S Army. I relayed what I’d witnessed in the Pacific Theater in WWII, right after we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  I passed on a few of my stories concerning my participation in the occupation of Japan, subsequent to that nation’s surrender to the Allied Forces.  Patiently, Tom listened, and then he told me this fascinating story.

He’d come from a long line of Navy men, including a few admirals.  During the Vietnam War, young Tom enlisted in the Navy; while on active duty, he patrolled the waters off Vietnam.  One day, his ship received an urgent message telling that a group of Marines was trapped in battle.

The ship’s captain asked for volunteers to rescue the Marines.  As Tom was a quartermaster (navigator), he volunteered to pilot the landing craft.  Armed with vintage WWII weapons (M-1 rifles & Thompson machine guns), Tom and a group of fellow sailors headed for the prearranged destination.  Arriving at the rendezvous point, they landed on a beach and fanned out, setting up a perimeter defense to await the beleaguered Marines.   Lying in the sand they waited, where minutes hung like hours.  Suddenly, the whole sky lit up from shellfire; it seemed as if all hell had broken loose.

Pressing his body hard into the sand, Tom dug for all the shelter Mother Earth could offer.  It was at that very moment that the words of Father Kirk came flooding back to him:  “If at any time in your life you need help, recite this prayer:  ‘Little Flower, at the hour, show your power.'”   And so, Tom prayed.

Suddenly, a group of Marines carrying their wounded comrades appeared on the beach.  Quickly, everyone piled into the waiting landing craft.  They left the scene of the battle and returned to the safety of their mother ship.

As Tom was finishing this story, he paused as if he was reliving those moments.  Then he startled me by saying, “You know, all the way back to the ship, I could smell roses.”

Well, our engagement party wound to its happy conclusion, and as the party finally broke up, Tom came to say goodbye to me.  As we shook hands, I said, “Tom, if you don’t mind, would you do a number on me?”  He smiled and nodded.  Placing his hand on my head, he made the Sign of the Cross with his thumb, saying, Little Flower, at the hour, show your power.”

As my wife and I were driving home, she remarked, “Well, you two had a long conversation today,” so as we drove, I told her the story.  Arriving home, I could not seem to stop thinking about Tom’s remarkable tale.  Upon retiring, I found myself reciting that simple prayer and feeling somehow that day, that I had been blessed.

As you read this story, perhaps there is a message in it for you, as well.  If ever in your lifetime, you need help, say the prayer, “Little Flower, at the hour, show your power.”   Who knows?   You may smell the roses, too, as St. Theresa (the Little Flower) comes to your aid. 

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- who has written 267 posts on Write On New Jersey.

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6 Responses to “Little Flower”

  1. Karen says:

    I just loved this story. Serendipity at work in the meeting of these men. I’ll never forget that little prayer and consider it a gift.

  2. Jane Tyler says:

    My thanks to you for printing this. I have used the prayer twice since reading it, and I must say that it worked. I did not ask for frivolous things; my prayers were serious. Maybe this is part of its success? To ask for others and not ourselves?

  3. PG says:

    I saw this really great post today!

  4. Elvera Schoninger says:

    A good post indeed! I have already subscribed to the RSS feed of your weblog and look forward to reading more of your blog posts in the future.

  5. NH says:

    I found your site via yahoo. Thanks for the post. I will bookmark it for future reference.

  6. Jeff says:

    Hello. This article was extremely fascinating. I was actually searching for this prayer when I stumbled upon your article.

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