Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"But he who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:13

Sketch of the Crucifixion - by St. John of the Cross
I have been thinking lately about the nature of time in the lives of the saints.  When we read the daily saint reading and find that "he" was sick for 3 years, that "she" had spiritual dryness for most of her life, that "he" only had one convert in 40 years, we don't really let that information sink in most of the time.  If we reflect on three years of our OWN lives and wonder if we could be sick that long and still be faithful to God, then we begin to fathom what it means to be heroic.  One such saint is Julie Billiart.  I first read her entry in the saint book in April 8 of this year....her story has stayed in my mind for a long time after.
When she was a young woman, she became very ill and completely paralyzed for twenty-five years.  To put that in perspective...that is longer than I have been married.  In that time I have had seven kids and two homes, have home schooled through high school, and sent kids off to college.  She lay in bed for that many years.  But she just didn't lay in bed.  She started teaching catechism from bed.  She inspired many young women (from her bed!) to do works of charity and to pray together; she founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (paralyzed in her bed!) And the most charming part of her story is when a priest who admired her very much asked her to pray a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for "a special intention".  She dutifully and lovingly did so.  Little did she know that his intention was that she would be cured!  He knew she would never have prayed for herself in this way, so he "tricked" her into it.  At the end of the novena he told her to take a step in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  She was able to walk! And she continued where she left off and her order of sisters spread.  She was canonized by...Pope Paul VI...in 1969.
So, the thought is:  when we reflect on Scripture, on the lives of the saints, we need to reflect more deeply on the passage of time and what that really means.  Moses had to lead that stiff necked people for FORTY years in the desert; Jesus, in utter humility, had to put up with the baiting of envious Pharisees for THREE years; and St. Julie ran an order of sisters for TWENTY FIVE YEARS from her bed - paralyzed!  The notion of time is a facet of the life of grace that truly brings out the glory that only in God can these things come about. And so in our own lives and in the passage of time that has been given to each of us.  But we have saints to pray for us.  Praised be Jesus Christ!
Jesus - the Way, the Truth, and the Life - Who showed us how to suffer patiently.

Here are some saints that had to endure the lengthy passage of time in both physical and spiritual suffering:
Charles de Foucauld - started an order so strict that only one brother was brave enough to follow him, but remained faithful for years.
St. Julie Billiart - was bed-ridden for twenty-five years and yet remained faithful. And she still smiled.

Moses - had to lead the "stiff-necked people" for forty years in the desert; surrounded by complainers and whiners like us.

St. Rita - had to put up with mobster relatives and a mobster husband. She redeemed him by her faithful patience and prayer; in the aftermath of his death - by the mobsters - she became a nun.

St. Andre Besette - the porter of a monastery. In his own words, "When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years."

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