I am experiencing the Church in such a visible way that I have lost count of how many times I have teared up in simple awe and wonder at the beauty of our Catholic faith. Our faith is living and so very much alive! And it is breathtakingly beautiful. There is an energy in Madrid that I have never experienced before. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics from all around the world are gathering in the beautiful city of Madrid to celebrate life and love in Christ! In the midst of war, economic turmoil, nothingness, and a secular culture that works to degrade the sacred dignity of every man and woman, we gather together to celebrate the life and hope within us that comes from Christ. We KNOW there is more. And gathering together in prayer, adoration, and song with our Pope is giving us a living experience of faith that we will never forget. My miracle of the day? Coming within 8 feet of Pope Benedict on some random side street on our way back to our hotel. My friends and I breathlessly rushed up to the front of the security rope and we reached out to him. As he drove by he smiled at us and blessed us. If it weren’t for the security forces in place, I have no doubt that we would have stampeded our dear Papa in love and admiration, so great was our joy. What a blessing and inspiration he is to us! Christ has challenged us to be a light of hope and strength to the world and to stand firm in the faith. Moments like these make me realize the deepest cry of my heart is to give every breath of my being to my Lord and my God and to pray ever more deeply for the strength to do so. We are alive in Christ and want all the world to know the source of our joy!!!
By Kathryn Diener
“Turn yourself round like a piece of clay and say to the Lord: I am clay, and you, Lord, the potter. Make of me what you will.” ~St. John of Avila
So, two of my favorite saints are St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Those saints managed to live a life so enraptured with our Lord it rivals the greatest of love stories. St. John of the Cross wrote buckets of poetry exquisitely capturing God’s great love for Him and his love in return. And St. Teresa of Avila was one spunky, beautiful girl who daringly refused all of her many suitors and went straight to the author of romance: she married Christ and became a nun– and she still had men knocking down her doors. I kid you not. Her Mother Superior had to remove her from her cloistered counseling cell where men would come just to hear her voice and receive her sage advice. Teresa was so charming and wise men managed to fall in love with her just by hearing her voice.
And so, I just learned that the hermit on the hill who was the spiritual advisor to both of these amazing saints was none other than St. John of Avila. He started out studying law and then became a hermit… gee, I can’t imagine why. Sounds like something a lot of lawyers would appreciate today! He was known for his hugely popular and fiery sermons and the beautiful and meditative way in which he celebrated Mass. He also helped develop the theology of the priesthood. A brief imprisonment during the Inquisition even made him even more popular. St. John of Avila claimed he learned more through his year of suffering in prison than in all his previous studies. He was only recently canonized in 1970. I think people probably figured that anyone who could inspire St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila (Two Doctors of the Church) must be pretty special himself. In fact, it is said that Pope Benedict may soon declare St. John of Avila the 34th Doctor of the Church. Stay tuned to the Vatican for more info!
- Saints of WYD 2011: St. John of the Cross (virtualpilgrimage.wordpress.com)
I’ve already talked a bit about St. Isidore the Worker, as he was married to St. Mary of the Head. However, here is another cool fact about St. Isidore. He worked as a farmer, and he would begin everyday by first attending Mass.
My mom attends Mass daily and I remember once asking her what she did when she got busy. Her response was that God multiplied her time if she began it with Him. St. Isidore seems to have experienced something similar. He would often accomplish the work of 3 men, and once his Master saw another plow pulling along beside Isidore, but upon closer inspection, it was only Isidore. It was said that the angels themselves assisted Isidore in his labors. Isidore found dignity and sanctity by uniting and giving his labors to Christ, something we can all do at any stage in our lives. He and his wife, Mary, are the patron Saints of Madrid.
St. Isadore is also known in Madrid for a fascinating miracle. you can read more on this HERE
- Saints of WYD: St. Mary (or Maria) of the Head! (virtualpilgrimage.wordpress.com)
“Dear young people, if you are rooted in Christ you will become fully the person you are meant to be…the time of youth is given to you by the Lord to enable you to discover life’s meaning about demanding, long-term choices, a time of wondering about the mystery of pain and suffering. What is more, this wonderful time of life is marked by a deep longing which, far from cancelling everything else, actually lifts it up and fulfills it.”~ Pope Benedict
This theme of searching and becoming who we are meant to be is a message we hear often from our Pope, and one he has chosen as the theme of World Youth Day 2011. We are also reminded of it in the wedding homily of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The opening words of the homily are from a quote by St Catherine of Sienna:
“If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze!”
We are called to something greater than ourselves, yet we carry that Greatness within us. Christ is waiting for us to receive what He has already given.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within. me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.~ St. Augustine
As we prepare our hearts and minds ( and our suitcases!) for WYD, remember to spend time with Him, the awesome lover of our souls who truly fulfills the deepest longings of our heart. Don’t be afraid to ask Christ to reveal Himself to you. He will, and in doing so will teach you Himself what it means to be a child of God.
I leave you with the song “Restless” by one of my favorite artists, the awesome Audrey Assad…