Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 6, 2004
Saints willingly pay a price for holiness
Light One Candle
"There goes a real saint!"
Believe me, no one has ever applied those words to me, but I've heard and used the phrase the way you have. What we generally mean is somebody who is a good person, who does a lot for others, and who may have to put up with a certain amount of pain or difficulties in his or her own life.
While there are relatively few canonized saints, I'm convinced that we all know some person, maybe even several people who are honest-to-goodness everyday saints. They may not be performing miracles on street corners, but they are surely developing a deep relationship with God and reaching out to others because of the faith, hope and love which are at the centre of their lives.
These are not people who are merely nice, or easy to get along with, or active in their communities. They are saints because they know that the goodness and holiness for which they strive, often comes at a price - one they are willing to pay.
Let me tell you about a Dominican priest, Father Pascal Kelly, I knew in my hometown a long time ago.
When a man becomes a priest, you assume his mission is to serve God by serving others. Yet, I have no doubt that Father Pascal never planned the life he eventually led. Ordained in 1933, he was assigned the following year to Holy Rosary Parish in Minneapolis.
A short time later, he learned he had multiple sclerosis. For over 20 years, Father Pascal continued to serve his parishioners, until, in 1956, the disease forced him to enter St. Mary's Hospital. It would be his home until his death in 1975.
I don't know about you, but I think many of us would feel angry not only about the physical suffering, but being confined to a hospital for so long.
Whatever his private feelings, Father Pascal made the decision to put his time to good use for his fellow patients, members of his congregation and, eventually, many visitors and correspondents from around the world.
He immersed himself in a life of prayer and counselling. One person would introduce him to another, and he became famous for sharing his wisdom one-on-one with all who asked his guidance. Most were average folks, though a few well-known people like Danny Thomas and Carmel Quinn came to call.
Thanks to the generosity of many who wanted to show their appreciation, he was able to raise funds for the work of the missions and the education of priests.
About a year and a half before his death, his fellow Dominicans wanted to show their gratitude and Father Aniceto Fernandez, the head of the order, wrote to Father Pascal, saying: "The apostolate you have carried on from your hospital bed over the years has been most fruitful for so many thousands of souls. Your spirit of prayer, your dedication to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, and your sufferings endured with patience and cheerfulness have all been a source of great edification."
None of us can know where God will lead us when we entrust our lives to him. We can be sure that when we seek God's will, we must ultimately do good for his people.
"There is only one way to love God and to prove it to him, and that is by loving your neighbour - the person next to you at any given moment," wrote Catherine Doherty, founder of Madonna House, and a woman of great courage and utter commitment to the poor.
"Turning your face and heart to Christ simply means turning your face to the one who is next to you at this moment in your life. If you do that, dearly beloved, you shall become a saint."
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Notes, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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