Our Saint Benedict Joseph Labre: Feast Day Reflection!
As we enter 22nd year since the foundation of the Guild I find myself displaced at bit like St. Benedict Joseph Labre.
All these years, I had big dreams think ing that someday, "We might have a volunteer center or chapel in his honor"?
Our reality though is quite different: God has allowed the Guild to stay simple. Mildred (my mother) has begun her stages of preparing for heaven. She has a bit of dementia herself and we are praying and discerning what our next step will be. I am trying to empty our family house where the Guild things reside. I have made many trips to the family home moving the Guild stuff which as accumulated over those 22 years. Many trips to donation places and trash recycling receptacles, then finally bringing what's left to my home 85 miles away. We have many large paintings on our Saint and spirituality. (Pictured on the front page of the website) and I am not sure what I will do with them. I will hold on to them for only another year or so and I will then start donating them too. All This brings me to a place in myself reflecting on that I have been sort of a Lone Ranger for most of these years in so many ways. I think of all of the people God has allowed St Benedict Joseph Labre to touch through my most unworthy heart and life. This gives me much hope and drive to press on. I am myself not depressed but actually very happy. Today is my 7th wedding anniversary and our two adopted children are doing so well. You can read about them on our anniversary page.
My message to you after years of reflecting on our patron's life and working on this Apostolate is:
Life is not what we plan, but what we experience!- Faith makes thing possible BUT there is no guarantee that it is going to be easy. But when we give it all to God, the reward will be GREAT!
Blessed Feast Day to you all!
“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”
March 26th 1748 - April 16th 1783
The Holy Wayfarer
Here is an excerpt from our first newsletter:
“It was 1783, all of the bells were ringing out in the city of Rome. The children were running through the streets of Rome shouting, “The saint is dead! The saint is dead! Among these children was one later to be known for her holiness. Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, the famous wife, mother and mystic told others that she learned her Trinitarian spirituality from that great homeless pilgrim and holy man St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Our saint who was sick in body and mind most of his life, totally gave his life to God in the best way he was able. He in turn was given so much grace, internal inspirations and wisdom that people would meet St. Benedict Joseph once in their life time and never forget him. He sought after what he thought was a religious vocation but in turn God called him to a unique way of life. He embodied the suffering, betrayal and poverty of the crucified Lord himself. In short, our saint became the personification of the rejected suffering Christ. He offered everything up to God and lived in complete union with the Blessed Trinity dwelling in his soul. Therefore, he said: In order to love God, every Christian must have three hearts in one; a heart of fire for God, a heart of flesh for our neighbor and a heart of bronze for ourselves.”
Can a person with mental illness become a saint? By appearances, one would consider this of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. However, we must be careful not to project our views and remain as open and objective as possible when studying about his life. At that time in history, there was a lot of homeless people living in the street. He embodied this lifestyle and it was this embrace that precisely brought him to a new vocation and holiness of life. In fact, he may even be the most important figure in recent times when it comes to prayer and contemplation. Antonio Cavallucci painted him many times, including this one titled: “The Incarnation of Mysticism.” At his canonization, Pope Leo XIII called St Benedict Joseph: “Holiness Itself!” There is no doubt that he was an exceptional person.
And there is evidence that our patron refused communion and even thought that God had rejected him. Does this make a case for mental illness? It would seem yes. Interestingly, like The Little Flower, St. Therese, our patron maintained his baptismal innocence his whole life.
Carol Houselander in her book, “Guilt”, states: “The life of Benedict Joseph Labre illustrates that way in which God sometimes uses neurosis to lead a man whose will is surrendered to him, into a vocation which he would not even imagine for himself...No sooner had Labre understood what it was that he was to do, then his mental condition was cured. He had no idea of the whole meaning of his life, of how many millions he stood proxy for before God, of the enormous burden of mental suffering that was sanctified in his own; but from the moment he became a wandering beggar his mind was illuminated and filled with peace, which remained with him through all of his outward sufferings until, like so many of those for whom he had come to be a Christ, he died from exhaustion in the crowded streets.” You can read our newsletters on this website where I mention more about this.
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