Saints of WYD 2011: St. Rafael Arnaiz “World Youth Day’s Youngest Saint”
St. Rafael Arnaiz was only recently canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict. St. Rafael was a Trappist Monk and died young, at the age of 27. After reading several accounts of his life, one realizes how truly modern and relatable of a saint he is. St. Rafael struggled with diabetes and spent much of his youth sick. And yet, one does not get the sense that his sickness dragged him down. He faced each bout of hospitalization and bed rest with humor and an unfailing faith in God’s presence and love. In his words: “All things proceed from the love of God.” Before dying, his last words were: “Take me, and give Yourself to the world.”
St. Rafael teaches us that a life of sanctity does not consist in perfectionism. A life of sanctity is surrendering one’s will and weaknesses, and uniting oneself with the Father in love as best as one can– often in the midst of persecution and suffering. It is embracing one’s cross, not merely accepting it. It is continually getting up, no matter how much one falls. St. Rafael truly understood this… physically struggling to make it through the little tasks each day while those around him, even in the monastery, seemed to accomplish great things. Here is a passage from St. Rafael’s personal writings that reveal more:
“There once was a clown that fell every time he entered the ring…, he went to and fro, dragging his enormous shoes, and only after a great effort managed to sort everything out with the floor. Just when he thought everything was in order, he would trip over it.. the mat would crumple up again, and he would fall to the ground sweating.
I know a Trappist in the monastery who is the same as this clown. Everything he does comes down to “making do”– just dragging his feet and drying up his sweat. This poor man gives the angels, watching the spectacle of the world from heaven, something to laugh at. Although he isn’t doing risky work like the rest of the performers, neither deadly jumps nor flips on the trapeze… who cares? If he doesn’t know anything else, let him unfold the mats and with that, win the applause of the angels!”
Its in the little things, people. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spoke of this as well… doing little thing with great love.