Vocations stories in all their varieties and drama are a real testimony of God’s grace (and here we have a plethora!) Anyone who lives the consecrated life, is aspiring to the priesthood, or lives a life of dedicated service to the Church will point to one, common, living source and reason for their allotted path… God’s grace-filled call! Of all the remarkable ‘calls’ in history, Saint Matthew’s own vocation remains a veritable proof, fit for our times, of Christ’s all-embracing mercy. As the notorious tax-collector got up from his bench, leaving all wealth and relinquishing his power over others, he was not only embarking on an unknown adventure with the Savior, he was taking the first steps of his own ‘salvation story.’ That immediate response to Christ inaugurated a life of transformation – from disciple, to apostle, then evangelist. The initial grace to ‘turn from sin’ was truly an act of God’s mercy – the same mercy that brought him to salvation and through him, manifested divine, redeeming love to all ends of the earth. God’s mercy extended to ‘public’ sinners, as seen in the Gospels, has a unique splendor, for in it we see clearly the magnanimity of Christ’s Heart. And yet for each of us, sinners that we are, this mercy is no less potent, no less purifying. St. Therese (whose feast day is not far off!) in all her amazingly real holiness, spoke profusely of the mercy of God. In her simplicity and ‘groundedness’ she KNEW that it was by God’s grace that she was the person she was. She wrote some striking lines in her autobiography that Saint Matthew himself could have penned… “I know how he loved the prodigal son, I have heard his words to St. Mary Magdalene, to the woman taken in adultery, and to the woman of Samaria. No, no one could frighten me, for I know what to think about his love and his mercy.”
Saturday, September 10, 2011
September 8th, now past, dawned with slivers of sunshine after several days of clouds and rain as in much of the surrounding South. It was quite fitting, considering the themes repeated in the Divine Office for Our Lady’s Birthday which highlighted Mary as the Dawn of our salvation, Jesus Christ. When we think of Mary’s humble birth and what her early life must have been from the vantage of our more ‘sophisticated’ age, perhaps we are tempted to immediately think: ‘monotony!’ Could life in 1st century rural Nazareth have been exciting, or anything other than tedious?! And yet the so-called ‘monotonous’ life cloaks the possibility for a deep penetration into the Reality that rests beneath the tizzy of frenetic life. One can imagine how the hours of routine tasks in Mary’s life gave her the time to marvel at her Son, to delve into the meaning of Simeon’s words, or to wonder at her Son’s unannounced stay in the Temple. Through her simple life, dwelling daily with God Incarnate, she knew firsthand that God looks with favor on His lowly servant. The dawning of salvation began in the obscurity of a human village, and it continues in the unassuming work of the here and now. Perhaps many people today would wish for a slower, quieter routine in a rather demanding world. Even if one has to juggle a thousand responsibilities, as St. Teresa of Avila once said, God can be found among the pots and pans! (It’s true!!) Nonetheless, it is important to use the lulls, or the stretches of ‘flavorless’ work, to penetrate beyond the mundane and material. Those moments lend themselves most surely to our minds, hearts and souls to rest in God and see what He has to say…
At this time we pray especially for those who lost loved ones 10 years ago this September 11th, and in times more recent. Where grief and sorrow add a heavy burden to the routines of daily life, we pray you find solace in the compassionate and sorrowful heart of Mary.
The above picture was taken at dawn here at the Shrine on September 4th when we celebrated the Patronal Feast of the Shrine: the Solemnity of the Divino Nino Jesus! It was a blessing to have hundreds of pilgrims come (especially from the country of Columbia!) to honor the Divino Nino!