Catholic CornucopiadCheney


The Catholic Language of Flowers

In all the works of God, there is His image or His vestige, and therefore all speak to us of Him; yet not with the same voice, for not alike does He appear in all. For His perfections are infinite in variety and excellence, and the weakness of the creature can give them but a faint and partial expression. Hence, considering the relation of the visible creation to the mind of man, some things seem made to inspire awe and wonder, and these speak to us of His greatness; others appear intended for our mortification and humiliation, and these speak to us of His justice; others, again, for our utility, and these manifest His goodness.

Now, it is not wonderful that, in every age, the relations and analogies between flowers and things divine, should have been recognised; for our God is best known by His dearest attributes of goodness and beauty. Hence in these frail little creatures, that seem made solely for man’s delight, created to beautify this our place of exile—relics of Eden, for they afford a pleasure which can scarcely fail to be innocent—the traces of His goodness are clearly discerned; as in their countless variety, their exquisite beauty of graceful form and rich colouring, is manifest the reflection of a beauty that is infinite.

They speak to us, therefore, of their Creator, if we will but listen to them, and of our relations to Him, and what pertains to Him. Some would have them speak a different language, the language of a love that would lead our hearts to earth, rather than to heaven. Why should the fair flowers which He has made, be forced to serve against Him? Truly, here was the “creature made subject to vanity, not willingly.” Oh! how unwillingly, sweet and gentle creatures of God, were you employed against your Creator!

The object of this little Book is, to assist those who would wish to learn from the things that are made, the invisible things of God,—those who so· truly love our Lord, that they would have all things remind them of Him. Would that our favourite flowers had a better Interpreter! Nevertheless, the very defects of this little Book may move some more skilful hand and more fervent heart to perfect what we can but begin.

In these pages, the popular name, when it differs from the true name, has been given to flowers, as being that by which they are best known. Thus, the Pelargoniums retain their familiar title of Geranium, and the Robinias that of Acacia.