“Those whose hearts are enlarged by confidence in God run swiftly on the path of perfection. They not only run, they fly; because, having placed all their hope in the Lord, they are no longer weak as they once were. They become strong with the strength of God, which is given to all who put their trust in Him.” Saint Alphonsus Liguori
I work with international students. They do not stay in the country for very long. Sometimes, they leave me a gift. Recently, I received a book in Spanish philosophy that was of some interest to the student. The gesture was gracious. I had volunteered at a centre for the less fortunate for quite some time. Circumstances had changed and my group hadn’t gone for an extended period of time. Then, I received a call asking for my group to return. After talking to the group, I took it as a sign. Even my parish priest was willing to help find more volunteers. Who knows what else lies beyond the next curve in the road?
“Pray to be ever ready for God’s will even when it takes you by surprise.” St. Mary MacKillop
St. Artemide Zatti was an Italian immigrant to Argentina at the end of the 19th century. He felt drawn to religious life with the Salesians in that country and offered his care to the sick. This is a small example of dedication and commitment to the service of others through Christ. St. Cyril of Jerusalem suffered great hardship during the Arian heresy of the mid fourth century. He spent much of his bishopric in exile as the Church was torn with strife and schism and Jerusalem suffered along with the rest of the Church. Two examples of saints that struggled. It is a misconception that saints lived in a distant time and had easy lives. It is easy to see them as triumphant but each one of them suffered as our Lord suffered. Their task was to follow and witness and this is never easy – not even today.
“Christian joy is a gift of God flowing from a good conscience.” St. Philip Neri
I am saddened when I read Catholic media reports about the difficulty in the Church and the world. I have learned in my experience of the Church that we follow someone who is ahead of us in the faith. I am not convinced that we can change the world with words so much as our actions. Others around us need to see Catholics as living a sign of contradiction. Josef Zverina – the great Czech theologian who was condemned for so many years by the Prague regime under communism said, “Do not conform!. We cannot imitate the world precisely because we have to judge it, not with pride and superiority but with love, just as the Father loved the world,” (from the book “To Give One’s Life for Another” by Luigi Giussani). We need to resist, yes but also witness. When I visit the Carmelite Cloister near my home, the sisters tell me about the new candidates who are preparing to enter. It is amazing to hear such good news. In a large US city where I have visited, I was surprised to attend mass at a convent only to notice how many sisters have joined the order. It was remarkable. There is hope and we need to continue moving forward with confidence and trust in God. We won’t be disappointed.
“Our actions have a tongue of their own; they have an eloquence of their own, even when the tongue is silent. For deeds prove the lover more than words. – St. Cyril of Jerusalem