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Letter N

The Catholic Language of Flowers


(Narcissus: Nat. Order, Amaryllidaceæ)

The ancients pretended that Narcissus was a youth who, having beheld his own image reflected in a brook, was so enamoured of himself that, entirely occupied in gazing at his own perfections, he neglected every other employment, pined away, and would have died, had not the compassionate deities transformed him into the flower which bears his name.
    Does not this fable point to those who are too fond of their looking-glasses? It also contains an admonition to those selfish persons who, in love with themselves, and wholly engrossed with the idea of their own excellence, think not of the virtues or the claims of others.

Nasturtium,—The Applause of the World

(Tropæolum: Nat. Order, Tropæolaceæ)

The Nasturtium, which grows in such profusion during the summer months, but dies away at the approach of winter, may well be compared to the world, which fawns and flatters while it thinks us capable of satisfying its demands; but when the clouds of misfortune overshadow us, it withdraws its fickle affection, to bestow it upon some other object.

Nemophila,—Thoughts of Heaven

(Nemophila: Nat. Order, Hydrophylleæ)

The azure hues which this sweet flower seems to have stolen from the blue skies above us, recall to our thoughts that bright land to which we are wont to look with love and hope. It tells us that even on earth we may find some ray of Heaven’s colours, some gleam of its felicity, if we love and seek Him who is the joy of the blessed.

Nettle,—Extreme Sensibility

(Urtica dioica: Nat. Order, Urticaceæ)

The Nettle is a worthy type of those extremely sensitive people who resent the least wound to their feelings, even when given unintentionally or from mistaken kindness. Such persons sting even their best friends. The Nettle destroys the flowers that grow near it; and thus do those people drive away from them all who would render them a service, and, like that weed, they live in solitude, unnoticed and unloved.

Night-Flowering Cereus,—The Faithful Companion of Jesus

(Cereus grandiflorus: Nat. Order, Cactaceæ)

In the garden where the Saviour poured forth His midnight prayer, there bloomed a flower which, sleeping not while the blossoms round it slept, heard His words of love and sorrow, and witnessed the agony of His Sacred Heart.
    Thenceforward the fair flower no more unclosed to the glare of day; but in the still hours of night, when the stars watch in heaven, the Cereus, with loving fidelity, expands its snowy petals, as if it watched and waited for the voice of Jesus.
    Sweet flower, true emblem of the Faithful Companion of Jesus, who, heedless of all that the world holds dear, and closing her heart to all but her Lord, loves to watch with Him, to share His labours and His sufferings, and to commune with His most Sacred Heart.