A Private Devotion in Honour of St. Therese
In my last post I told you a little about Monsignor Canon Taylor of Carfin, Scotland and the Carfin Grotto. Today I would like to share with you a devotion that Canon Taylor learned of on his way to the 1927 Eucharistic Congress in Chicago. Known as "The Twenty - Five Glory Be's" I will endevour to promote it here in Canada:
The devotion known to many as the "Twenty - Five Glory Be's" arose, in different countries, from a spontaneous and natural desire among the laity, to give expression to their gratitude to the Blessed Trinity, for the many blessings showered on St. Therese of the Child Jesus during her twenty - four years and nine months on earth.
The late Monsignor Taylor, who was closely associated with the promotion of the Saint's canonization, relates in his writings that he first heard of the devotion on his way to the 1927 Eucharistic Congress in Chicago. He interrupted his journey at Baltimore to renew acquaintance with Rev. Professor Harig, who had trained him in the seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris. Father Taylor was shocked by the condition of his friend who had just been discharged from a mental hospital, after a prolonged period of illness. Some months after his return to Scotland, Father Taylor received a letter from Father Harig, telling him that he had been obliged to return to the mental hospital. While there one of the nursing staff, a religious, strongly urged him to say twenty - five times for life:
"Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
through Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Amen."
In thanksgiving to God for the graces conferred on St. Therese during her years on earth. Father Harig faithfully promised to do so and found himself cured. Although delighted by his friends recovery, Father Taylor neither accepted nor rejected the devotion at the time, even though he was assured by Mother Agnes of Jesus - sister of St. Therese - that the Lisieux Carmelites were aware that the practice of the twenty - five "Gloria's" was gaining popularity in America.
He was soon to learn that a similar devotion was growing in unrelated areas of the British Isles. A lady from Paisley, Scotland, was inspired to make a cord with twenty-four knots, to which she attached a medal of St. Therese, for the purpose of keeping count of the twenty-four "Gloria's" which she recited daily in honour of St. Therese. With her confessor's approval she gave similar cords to her children and to the many devotees of the "Little Flower" who asked for them. Eventually, disturbed by various unusual experiences which occurred to her, she decided to consult Father Taylor at Carfin. Acting on his suggestion, she increased the number of knots on the cords from twenty-four to twenty-five and commenced using the adapted form of the "Gloria". The names of the Holy Family replacing "as it was in the beginning. . . " made meditation simpler and less mechanical for the lay person. Father Taylor's interest was further aroused by an experience recounted by an old friend, Canon Grant of Aberdeen, who had been practicing the devotion for some years. He had been summond, by an anonymous caller, to the bedside of a lady seriously injured in a motor accident. Not knowing whether she was Catholic, he could only offer up a prayer and leave her, but before he left, he slipped his own twenty-five "Gloria's" cord under the unconscious invalid's pillow. Next morning he was called again to the infirmary, where he found the patient showing signs of recovery. Her story was that she was a lapsed Catholic and had not received the Sacraments for thirteen years. . . There was a sequel although the vehicle had passed over her body; a few months later the grateful and fortunate mother gave birth to a fine healthy child.
This incident and another nearer home convinced Canon Taylor finally of the efficacy of the twenty-five "Gloria's" devotion. A mother of eight children, who always had a severe time at the birth of her children, was awaiting the birth of her ninth. The doctor in attendance informed her that unless she placed herself entirely in his hands, her health and that of the unborn child could be at risk. The mother refused absolutely and instead sent for Canon Taylor, who blessed her with the relic of St. Therese, and asked her to recite daily "The twenty-five Glory Be's". On the following day the mother was able to move freely in her home, although hitherto she had been confined to bed for four months. Three days afterwards her child was delivered quickly and without any trouble.
Another favour, of the many received by devotees of the devotion, is a spiritual one and is even more striking. The father of a missionary nun home from Africa lay dying from cancer. For forty-five years the invalid had not received the Sacraments, nor would he allow a priest to enter his home. Though not completely convinced of the efficacy of the devotion, the distraught daughter, on Canon Taylor's advice commenced the recitation of the twenty-five "Gloria's". A few days later she was summoned urgently from her convent to her father's deathbed. To her great joy she found him completely reconciled to God, having already received the Last Rites. In his last painful agony, he uttered only the words, "Jesus, May and Joseph", before he died peacefully in his daughter's arms.
Some have recourse to the devotion only when they are faced with trouble and sorrow, and as shown in the given instances; their prayers have been answered. Others say the devotion as a form of meditation. Again there are those who recite the "Gloria's" for twenty-five days only as a novena in preparation for the feast of St. Therese, on the 3rd of October. In the latter group was a school teacher who had been saying the twenty-five "Gloria's" intermittently for a number of years. She had made arrangements to help supervise a group of teenagers on an overland trip to Rome, but a few weeks before the holiday was due to start she was advised to cancel the journey because of an irksome malady which made traveling very difficult. Unwilling to do this, very simply she promised Monsignor Taylor (who had died a few years earlier) that she would say the twenty-five "Gloria's" for life, if he, along with St. Therese, did his part in ensuring that the ten-day visit to Rome would not be too troublesome. It was a spiritual bribe, but it bore results. In spite of a strenuous journey by coach and steamer, and the exacting services of Holy Week, combined with the supervision of boisterous teenagers, there were no signs of discomfort during the days abroad. The favour was granted exactly as it was requested and that only for the time stated. Minor surgery did the rest a few months later.
During the last twenty years or so of Monsignor Taylor's life, he constantly recommended the twenty-five "Gloria's" as a private devotion, although he emphasized that this adapted form of the "Gloria" must not be used when reciting the Rosary. He considered that after the Sacrifice of Holy Mass, and recitation of the Rosary, the basis of all sincere prayer was the contemplation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and meditation on the Holy Family of Nazareth. When this was done in the name of St. Therese, he claimed that she would become our powerful advocate in heaven.
A last word written by a religious of a contemplative order, who has recently learned of the devotion: "I am more and more taken by the "Twenty-Five Glory Be's" as I keep calling them. The devotion suits my style of pryaer and meditation: St. Therese with her love for her own father and mother, rising to the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, on earth; and finding the Most Blessed Trinity in heaven. Psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles combine with the "Gloria" of the angels at Bethlehem and sing melodies to the Almighty in our hearts". S.M.G.
FOOTNOTE: History of the devotion adapted from Monsignor Taylor of Carfin (Publisher J.S. Burns & Sons Glasgow)pp 302-7. Copies of this leaflet may be had from Carfin Pilgrimage Centre 100 Newarthill Road Carfin, Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland ML1 5AL, 01698 268941.