Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Saint BFFs

It has been an exciting first few weeks at Seton Hall and great first week back with all of the students and staff back on campus. It’s crazy what a difference a year makes. Melissa (my Varsity Catholic teammate) and I have felt so welcomed in by the athletic department this year. Not to say that we weren’t last year, I guess what I’m saying is that last year was a little intimidating approaching some of the coaches and athletic department staff. This year I have not felt that way at all.

My daily prayer has consisted of a crazy, legit, and zealous for souls combination by reading Visits to the Blessed Sacrament & the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori and Set All Afire by Louis de Wohl which is about the ministry of my new favorite saint, St. Francis Xavier. Let me tell you more about this combination.

St. Alphonsus totally gets me grounded and focused on serving and living for God only and completely, I get in the mindset that everything I do, everything must be done for God and for the furthering of His Kingdom. Then I read Set All Afire which is St. Francis Xavier demonstrating one of the greatest, if not the greatest, examples of doing everything for the glory of and building of the Kingdom of God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. In this post I want to share a few excerpts from each book, share my thoughts and challenge myself and anyone reading to take a step further (or 1st step) in your daily evangelization, after all that is what we’re called to do as baptized Christians (evangelize/set all afire).

First, let’s get grounded. This excerpt is from the 19th visit, “Oh, if only I could remain in Your presence always to adore You and make You acts of love! I beg of You to arouse me from my lethargy whenever, because of coldness or preoccupation with worldly affairs, I neglect to visit You.” From the 20th visit “…to wash from our souls all the stains of sin that remain after the faults of the day. When any one of us commits a fault, is there any better remedy than immediately to go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?” And “No, it is not just or fair that one who is so good and lovable as You should receive so little love.”

And now, St. Francis, this excerpt is when he is meeting with a Brahman in India who believes in the idea that people are in a caste system, that there several gods, and that (if I understand correctly) people in a lower caste can offer sacrifices to this Brahman to improve their standing in the sight of the gods. The Brahman then attempts to bribe St. Francis with gifts (so that St. Francis will stop preaching to Paravas in this area). To which St. Francis stands right up to and says (through a translator) “I have no intention to be bribed by you or by anybody else. Truth makes no bargain with error. Take your presents. I cannot accept them. I shall not rest until all Paravas have become the servants of the one, true God. And I tell you that many of them whom you call low caste dogs are more pleasing in the site of God than those who strut about as you do, believing themselves to be so high and exalted. Instead of parading your arrogance before men, evoke in yourself humility towards God and you too will be pleasing in His eyes.” Then the Brahman again insists that St. Francis take the gifts. To which St. Francis replies, “all the wealth of India will not change the law of the one, true God and the will of His servant.” The Brahman then leaves and St. Francis’s interpreter becomes….well scared. But again St. Francis, unwavering says, “What else can there be between truth and lie? And what do we have to fear? If God wants us to go on spreading His holy law, all the Brahmans in the world won’t be able to stop us. And if God wants us to die, how could we possible live? They can do nothing?”

St. Alphonsus, just nails it every day for me. More or less that I am unworthy, I need to rely on Jesus (more), I need to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament more (as the saints did so fervently while being so present and so committed), and I need to live in a way that is serving God only and completely. But as the first excerpt above from St. Alphonsus says, I too easily become lethargic, caught up in worldly affairs and somehow justify to myself that either I don’t need to visit Jesus or that it is ok for me to become distracted while I am with Him. It pains my heart when I see someone not reverently approach the Eucharist or when someone could be more reverent during Eucharistic adoration. Yet every day I fail and neglect Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as well. The pain that I feel must be a sliver compared to the pain that Christ must feel when I (or anyone) neglect Him. Why are we so hesitant and reluctant to give Jesus as little as an hour of our time!

As a FOCUS missionary it is in our job description to attend daily mass and pray a daily hour of adoration. Lucky for us at Seton Hall, with 40 plus priests on campus, we get Jesus Christ exposed in the Blessed Sacrament every day. I’ve realized that early this year that for the past year I have approached this time of adoration too much like only a job requirement, not being as present as I could be, not truly honoring and adoring our Savior. St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Francis Xavier have helped me to more truly and more deeply experience Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Alphonsus and St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.

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