Latest Reflection on the Life of St Benedict Joseph Labre
Every Wednesday (American Eastern Standard Time from 6pm to 7pm) my family and I adore our Lord in our local parish. This is when I will read each chapter and write my reflections. Perhaps you can join me now that we have live stream Adoration on our website and we can be united in the hearts of Jesus, Mary and St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Click here to Adore with us
The following are my on reflections on “The Life of Benedict Joseph Labre” which was originally written by his confessor Father Giuseppe Marconi in Italian and then later translated in English by Father James Barnard in 1785. This book was one of the main instruments used for his canonization process to begin.
Due to the holidays, I have been offering at least one chapter per month as a reflection.
Timothy Hughes Duff
The Servant of God returns to the parish of Erin, where he remains ‘til the year 1766
By Timothy Hughes Duff
edited by Anne Costa
Benedict Joseph returns to the parish of Erin again after receiving a refusal from his parents: not allowing him to follow his heart to the monastery at La Trappe. Fr Marconi states:
It sometimes happens that disappointments and contradictions weaken a man’s resolutions and cast him into despondency. But that which Benedict experienced by his parents…contributed to redouble his fervor, and inspire him with a greater attachment to his duties, a greater love for prayer and for the reading of good books...a greater desire of uniting his soul more closely to God by a frequent participation of the holy sacraments. P 1
The parish of Erin was like a monastery for Benedict Joseph. His saintly uncle lived in a similar fashion as a consecrated religious. Fr. Marconi commented on how our saint took every opportunity to live like a religious. Religious piety, silence as in a cloister, regimented prayer schedule and all the regular practices of a religious community could be observed in the parish house at Erin. Most particular, the author comments, was the practice of all of the regular Church fasts observed between both the uncle priest and Benedict Joseph. He was not yet twenty-one and not obliged by Church law to practice them. However, he did them anyway. Benedict Joseph was on his way to great holiness and contemplation in in his heart getting ready to become a consecrated religious monk.
The two of them lived this way for two and half years before tragedy struck the town and parish of Erin. A cruel epidemic hit hard and every household was affected. Many of the people lay sick and dying. The virtuous uncle and nephew worked side by side caring for the parish family. Fr. Marconi recounts that they labored tirelessly into the nights offering pastoral support and service to their parish family members.
Benedict Joseph knew that the men relied so much on the cattle and other farm animals; If lost, it would be detrimental to their sustainable well-being and to their family. He went on spending long hours caring for the farm animals and cleaning the stables of those who were not well enough to do so. The uncle-priest on the other hand, offered pastoral support to the sick and dying tirelessly putting himself in harms way paying no mind to whether he could get the disease himself. Benedict Joseph would also assist him. Fr. Marconi shares another perspective of what was about to happen next:
So great charity is never exercised without meeting with a proper reward. God, who keeps an account of every cup of cold water given in alms for His sake, without doubt, will never forget it. But how different are the Thoughts of God, and how much more exalted than the thoughts of man! The world sometimes gives wealth or titles of honor as the reward of past services, but God frequently sends to His friends new crosses as the recompense of what they have already done or suffered for His sake. P 5
Fr Marconi tells us that the good pastor poured out all of his strength in charity for love of neighbor and eventually succumbed to the pestilence due to his weakness and over extending himself so much that his body just gave out. His death could have devastated Benedict Joseph who was still a very young man. However, listen to what Fr Marconi says:
What a stroke was this for Benedict, and in what a situation was he left. God had deprived him of a master, a patron; a second father. In his house he found a reteat, which in a great measure alleviated the regret he experienced at finding the monastery shut against him by his parents refusing their consent. But the death of his uncle left him almost without support, and seemed to be a presage of new obstacles to the following of his vocation. The servant of God saw the whole event of his loss. Nevertheless, his courage increased with his confidence in God, and the Holy Ghost, speaking interiorly to his soul, gave him to understand that a Christian is never stronger than when he has no reliance but on God alone. P 7
Our patron, fueled by ardent charity, was evermore purified by the pain of the loss of his beloved uncle. It gave him an even greater occasion to cling to Christ and find solace in the Sacraments. May we find comfort in knowing that the same God in whom Benedict Joseph found refuge is just as near to us today.
Prayer After This Week's Reflection
by Anne Costa
Heavenly Father, we all experience the loss of loved ones and need your strength and love to fill the void. Please comfort us and carry us in these times. May we follow in the footsteps of dear Benedict Joseph who was so filled with love for you and his neighbor, that even in deep pain, he sought solace in the Sacraments and carried on in your name. Amen.