“Let us pray for each other that our Lord may give us the grace that we need to become saints.” St. Bernadette
Recently, it was St. Anthony’s feast day and the Italian parish I attend had bread sprinkled with holy water for everyone. It was a good day. I brought some non-Catholics with me to mass, and they went up for some bread and they were quite impressed. We all had a breakfast together afterwards. A young woman joined us, and she had some physical challenges. However, she is such a strong person, and she does a remarkable job being an example for others. It made me feel a bit of a hypocrite since I seem to brag about my strong faith, but she is not so obvious about things, yet she is very ready to be a witness for others.
“God asks little, but He gives much.” St. John Chrysostom
What do we ask of God? Sometimes we use him like Santa Claus thinking that he delivers what we want. I do not think it is so simple. Many faithful have asked for things for years and continue to wait. I think often of mothers who pray for solace. St. Monica is a great example of this. How much did she pray for St. Augustine before he converted? Any mother, any saint might say the same thing. However, God does answer prayer, just not in the immediate way we want. He is not Amazon. I had read about St. Aloysius Gonzaga whose memorial was June 21. He grew up around the violence of Italy at that time. He even became ill himself yet that did not stop him. He took a private vow of chastity and used his time in prayer. He died at the young age of 23.
“All evangelical perfection is attained by the continual exercise of prayer”. St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Similarly, St. Joseph Cafasso lived an exemplary life. He was a popular teacher and defended the Church from the state’s intrusion. He made a deep impression on his young student priests with his holiness and insistence on discipline and high standards. Many people sought him out as a confessor and advisor. He ministered to prisoners, working to improve their terrible conditions. He met Don Bosco in 1827 and the two became close friends. This had a profound influence on his life. Still, prayer was the centre of his life. There is nothing greater.
“Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” St. John Chrysostom
One last interesting example is Nelson Santana. This young boy from Brazil was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of eight in 1963. Both the nurse and nun who cared for him spoke of his “extraordinary ability” to understand the meaning of Christ 's suffering. He never complained, not even when he was told that his arm would be needed to be amputated. He died Christmas Eve, 1964, as he predicted. Devotion to him spread. These examples for us are reminders of God’s great love for his people. We only need to respond.
“If you are not a man of prayer, I don’t believe in the sincerity of your intentions when you say that you work for Christ.” St. Josemaria Escriva