Blessed Solemnity of All Saints to dearest Sisters in Christ…
Today we are called to remember all of the saints, known and unknown, whose lives have served as holy examples, whose prayers have held merit. The Solemnity and its Octave (keep celebrating!) are significant for Seven Sisters whose hallowed endeavor is praying for the sanctity of priests. And all the while trusting the same outcome for ourselves. “O blessed souls, who knew so well how to profit by the gifts of God, and to purchase with this precious ransom so delectable and enduring a heritage, tell us how you won through Him such an eternal blessing! Assist us, since you are so near the Fountainhead. Draw water for those of us on earth who are perishing with thirst.” (St Teresa of Jesus -Exclamations of the Soul to God, 13). As our patron, St John Vianney, prompts with an infusion of hope, “The saints did not all begin well, but they all ended well.”
Much in life is not always what it appears. Parental counsel in one’s formative years prudently warns, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” Our Lord reminds Samuel, that He does not look at the things people look at. While people look on the outward appearance, He looks on the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Even the natural world echoes this principle.
The sight of the aftermath of a forest fire sinks the heart. A deeper reality, however, is that the seeming devastation potentially invigorates new growth. My younger brother, Jim (degree in forest science), says that most forest trees need to be exposed to fire every 50-100 years to enliven the ecosystem. Fires seem to be a natural part of the regeneration system. The intense heat and pressure serve to explode cones that are filled with seeds. Millions of kernels carpet the ground and ash. In less than a month, scores of them germinate and bring forth seedlings. In 30-40 years, a hiker enjoying the lush woodlands of such an area will not have any inkling that the area had once been devastated.
Here is the fascinating part. The power of the fire is merely the initial step of forest re-growth. The weather patterns in the affected area over the next year (says Jim) play a crucial role in how the new forests develop. Normal rains nourish the nutrients and seeds left on the ground and will serve as the greatest boost for successful growth. A summer of drought will severely stunt the potential growth.
Seven Sisters are set to learn something here. In our current milieu where it appears a torch has devasted the Church’s landscape, perhaps our steady flow of prayers serves as symbolic gentle rains of healing, beckoning new life. One drop of water may not impress, but acting together there is a steady shower through which one drop cannot be differentiated from another! There is a built-in fidelity and consistency of our Holy Hours that cannot help but be beneficial.
The faith deposit remains ever-rich with potential and propagation. Anything additional or profaned has no place in this deposit. Reform purges that which is not of God. Truth liberates. Reparation mends wounds. Our prayers in no-small-part are set to assist and invigorate the true, the good, the beautiful. St John Chrysostom reminds for the individual but also the Body of Christ, the Church, “Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.” Our Faith consistently boasts of life – and life to the fullest! We are partakers in the very life of the risen Christ Himself. Further, Our Lord promises that He will restore what the swarming locust has eaten (Joel 2:24). Indeed, He makes all things new (Rev 21:5).
The church has tread a journey steeped with countless examples of rising and falling, falling and rising: from individuals to family groups to religious orders to specific areas within the life works of the Church. Multitudes of our brothers and sisters in Christ have lived lives of both white and bloody martyrdom for the sake of reform. St Clement of Alexandria is straightforward in his observations, “Therefore let us repent and pass from ignorance to knowledge, from foolishness to wisdom, from licentiousness to self-control, from godlessness to God.” This is the path wrought only by prayer … lots of it… unceasing…
How great is the worth of your sacrifices, dearest Seven Sisters! Your offerings are eternal. The task before us each week is not always easy to bear nor execute. Yet love never tires. You so well understand that in His Will is our peace (Dante). And yes, we can take heart because much in this life is not always what it appears. We see dimly at best…
And while the fires of both the world and within the Church itself have scorched and, in some places, have yet to burn, we do well to remember that we too bear a fire. We bear a fire within. It should soothe one’s soul to consider that the spark was ignited from the flaming Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself. He bequeathed that spark to the nascent Church at Pentecost. Those dancing flames compelled the 120 to explode into the streets with the good news of Love. The bud and seedling of new life ensued.
And so, while the flames about us may rise or continue to burn yet for a while, let us not succumb. Let us allow our fervor and resolve to ignite an explosion of a few seeds of new life within our own hearts. Let us water those seeds of eternal potential with prayer and hope and embrace the course of the new, come what may.
Over and again I hear from Seven Sisters and others (outside of, but supportive of the Apostolate) that a prayer consistently rises to pray that the flames of the Apostolate will be ignited “all over the world”. That indeed, our prayers will find the heart of every bishop and priest. Some have told me they pray and light vigil candles in every church they visit to symbolically suggest this same sentiment. St Catherine of Siena encourages, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” And in that, dear Sisters, is a sure hope of new life!
United in prayer and mission...
that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest...
... eternal gratitude continues as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day.... Pray that I will not 'spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted...' (St Teresa of Calcutta)
... your kind emails and notes and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your letters of testimony are so beautiful and edifying! Don't stop writing to me. Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.