Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 1, 2009
Communion draws us to respect dignity of both mother and child
Nothing More Beautiful session offers challenge to rampant individualism
The Christian tradition also “challenges us to embrace technologies, which protect and enhance creation rather than technologies that exploit the gifts of the earth for greed.
“We cannot embrace a culture of life without embracing the poor.”
Stewart spoke of his long and complex journey back to God after he abandoned his Catholic faith and committed himself to a secular vision of life.
Born on a military base in Frankfurt, Germany in 1953, Stewart was raised in Fayetteville, N.C. He spent 11 years serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, a period in which he didn’t practise his faith.
Six months before ending his naval career, however, Stewart found himself confronted by the shallowness of his life and the emptiness of his heart.
A priest friend, Father Phillip, came to his rescue. “He told me that, despite all the wretchedness of my life, my family still loved me, that the Church’s doors were open wide for me, and that the Lord had always and would always love me.”
This action helped Stewart recover his faith and claim a long-denied call from the Lord.
“When I was an infant my parents and godparents took me to the baptismal font and I died and rose again into the life of Christ, into the heart of the Holy Trinity,” he said.
“But now, as an adult, I chose to let the power of my Baptism and the graces of the many moments that God had entered into my life, even in my deepest death of sin, to take hold of me, to begin to reshape me into the me that God had intended for all time.”
In the fall of 1987, while studying philosophy at Duke University, Stewart met three “marvellously eccentric and holy ladies” of the Madonna House lay community in Raleigh, N.C.
“I was deeply touched by their love of the Lord and the Church and by their love so easily shared with so many others and me.” Within 10 months of meeting them, he headed to Madonna House in Combermere, Ont.
Madonna House is dedicated to the restoration of all things in Christ and Stewart admitted to being in “dire need of restoration when I arrived.”
He learned lots, entered more deeply into relationship with Jesus, matured some, and had his whole world and personal view turned upside-down.
After nine months he left. But after realizing he could not live the Gospel on his own, Stewart returned to Madonna House in 1990. After two years of formation, he made promises of poverty, chastity and obedience and was assigned to Madonna House’s mission house in the north of England.
In 1997, following a struggle with alcoholism, Stewart was sent to the Marian Centre in Edmonton and was, for the first few years, in charge of cooking the stews and organizing the centre’s many volunteers.
In 2002 he was appointed director.
The poor have been his best teachers. “They have certainly showed me time and again when and how I am stingy, impatient and selfish.
“They have most often blessed me with patience and kindness giving me cause to continue this journey into and with the Lord in Madonna House.”
(The full transcripts of both talks are available at the website of the Edmonton Archdiocese — www.caedm.ca/beautiful/texts-reflections.)
(See Archbishop Smith’s reflection on this week’s talks. Click Here.
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