See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hidden saints.

Simple souls.
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I watched Rossellini's The Little Flowers of St. Francis once again last night, partly because I am so edified by the simplicity of Br. Juniper. I needed to watch something holy after seeing Fr. Groeschl on Sunday Night Live. Fr. Groeschl, for all of his education and accomplishment is a simple soul, a true Franciscan. Remember, simple souls are not dumb - St. Therese was a simple soul, and she is a Doctor of the Church.
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This is the one I approve, the lowly and afflicted who heed my Word.
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That verse is from a psalm, although I can't recall which one. I read it in the Liturgy of the Hours one day at adoration, when I happened to look up and noticed two old ladies. It seemed to me I saw them everywhere the Blessed Sacrament was exposed or the rosary was being recited. They looked rather poor and crippled, even a bit eccentric. I knew they were Third Order Franciscans, and they always had their head covered in church - no veils - just odd little hats. They were Grey Gardens types, but very sweet, meek and humble. I understood these ladies were the types the Lord approves. I also understood why the Franciscans attracted such odd people - it goes back to Francis himself. He was little and odd too, simple and poor, lowly and afflicted, as was Juniper, and John the simple, and Benedict Joseph, and those two old ladies. Misfits.
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Not a perfect fit.
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At my parish there is another old lady - one of many actually. She comes to church, minding her own business and prays. She is friends with the others, but she seems to be a bit more on her own. She is a simple soul too. She smokes, I can smell it. Once she told me how much she misses her husband who died a few years ago - we had been talking about a guy who was suffering because his mom died that week. Otherwise she doesn't talk much. I don't know what to say about her, but I know she is a very simple soul. she never complains about church stuff, liturgy, priests. She doesn't talk about holy things, she doesn't seem to know what the latest news is out of the Vatican, but she is faithful. She knows right from wrong. I think that is just fine.
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The simple lay-brother.
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Finally, I thought of an old friend, a monk from New Melleray. He was a lay brother named George who worked in the kitchen of the Guesthouse. He had been a medic somewhere, although I'm not sure if he was in the Army, but I know he worked for the Hawthorne Dominicans. He spoke very highly of them, especially Mother Rose, while I 'm not certain if he knew M. Alphonsa, I seem to recall he told me he met her.
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Br. George was a very kind, generous man, and always had a warm smile for everyone. Once, while on one of my many retreats before entering the monastery, I was helping Br. George clean the dinning room. I can't recall exactly what we were discussing, but he left for a moment and came back and put a $20 dollar bill in my hand. "Here, you may need this."
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I protested, but he explained to me he received a Social Security check every month and had no other use for it. I was much too proud to admit that I had no money whatsoever, and the $20 surely was needed. I thanked him and said, "God reward you." I cringe at that because it was a pious expression I adopted from the Carmelites, which I used when I wanted to appear spiritual to other people. It wasn't necessarily a conscious case of pretentiousness - more a wanna-be-spiritual thing on my part. It's a beginners thing.
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Anyway, George stopped sweeping, smiled and sort of looked up to heaven, a tear or two glistening in his eyes, and said, "Oh! He already has. He already has." And he continued sweeping the floor.
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I'll never forget that.

7 comments:

  1. Terry

    Enjoyed this post and specially the story of Bro George. I am edified and humbled by the way you so easily put yourself out there, on the line, for all the read. Your intelligent simplicity moves me.

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  2. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Terry-

    Are you a monk right now? If so, which monastery?

    I thought about becomming a monk for a while, but I don't know if that's my vocation or not.

    Patrick

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  3. Patrick - no, I'm a layman. Never ordained, never professed as a religious - just as a III Order Franciscan.

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  4. Carol9:25 PM

    Terry, I thought Third Order Franciscans were professed. Don't you have the Tau, and a Religious name?

    Patrick, you might want to continue asking Mary's help in your discernment --she is all over such things..but you can also make some retreats here and there with monks and see how that goes..

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  5. Carol - yes - they do make profession and I got to make mine at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi. I think getting a Tau cross is optional, as is the name, although my name is Christian of the Holy Wounds. I also got a cord and a San Damiano cross.

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  6. Carol9:55 PM

    "Christian of the Holy Wounds." As best I can tell, Terry, it fits you very well.

    Professed at the tomb of St. Francis? The little Seraphic Father himself had in that! How blessed you are.

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  7. Carol - thanks - the title came from St. Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, a Franciscan mystic from Naples.

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