Latest Reflection on the Life of St Benedict Joseph Labre- Chapter 7 (continued)
Wednesday January 16th
by Timothy Hughes Duff
Chapter 7 (part 2)
St. Benedict Joseph returned home after the loss of his uncle. Once again, in his reflections he was discerning a plan for his religious life. He felt driven and was convinced God was calling him. He just didn’t know how to approach his parents yet a third time to request permission.
In the meantime, he had another uncle, Vincent, who came calling and who was a monsignor at a parish in the town called Counteville. His parents decided to send him after the priest expressed great interest in continuing Benedict Joseph’s education for the priesthood. God’s Providence was setting the stage for something great in the life of Benedict Joseph. The two: the saintly uncle and the pious Benedict Joseph really came to love one another deeply and inspire each other.
The bishop of Boulogne wrote a letter to Fr Marconi in 1783 (the year of our saint’s death) regarding Benedict Joseph’s uncle, Monsignor Vincent who had a reputation for possessing a great disposition, prayer-life and love of the poor. It is worthy to take note:
“Sir, among the letters which I sent to you, there is one M. Vincent, the uncle of the venerable Benedict Joseph Labre. His testimony ought to make so much the more impression, as he is one of the most worthy priests that I know. His extraordinary piety, his austere life, and compassionate charity for the poor, has gained him the esteem and veneration of the public to such a degree that in the places where he is known, he is already canonized by the voice of the people, for they commonly call him, not Mr. Vincent, but St. Vincent.” From the Bishop of Boulogne’s letter of June 18, 1783” P6
As Fr Marconi was doing his research and preparing to write his book, Monsignor Vincent sent him an affidavit regarding the saint. In it, He tells the story of the peaceful countenance of our saint even in the midst of adversity and attack: “Benedict Joseph", 'says he', "rendered himself amiable from his most tender years, on account of his great mildness, of which he has on many occasions given signal proofs at Counteville, amongst some students whom I then taught. There was one, a very turbulent youth, who knowing him to be of a peaceful disposition, uses to make it his diversion to thwart and mortify him, but Benedict never resisted him, either by words or actions. He has exercised his patience so far as that, rather than to resist or make any complaints against him, he has suffered himself to be very much annoyed with the cold in winter. ‘I have observed in Benedict a great deal of piety and inclination to read good books. The works of Pere’ L’ Aveugle have given him his inclination, and this ardent desire of leading penitential life. He has read them several times, and as he had aa sound judgement and a good memory, he has imprinted in his soul the truths which he took notice of in these books”. P7
Benedict Joseph drawn more to this reading from the missionaries was drawn now to follow the preachers as they would come to the diocesan parishes. He would now make little journey’s to listen to these holy men. Benedict Joseph was occupied with holy thoughts all of the time. Father Marconi accounts: “the pious youth followed them in these different parishes, and thought of nothing but the salvation of his soul. Beholding the zeal which these fathers, who were congregants of the missions established by St. Vincent De Paul.” This was the beginning of how his life would later become a living walking pilgrimage.
Prayer After This Week's Reflection
by Anne Costa
Lord, Jesus St. Benedict was always docile to your promptings and resolute in his practice of virtue. We pray to follow his example to be always open and to love your ways above our own. Fill us with zeal to pursue you as St. BJL did throughout his lifetime, never satisfied but always seeking you more and more Amen.