Friday, November 07, 2008

Mother Cabrini: another modern saint in the mode of St. Paul

Frances Xavier Cabrini lived from 1850-1917 and was the first citizen of the US to be canonized a saint in the Catholic Church. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Italy, then came to this country with a bunch of sisters and founded schools and orphanages in New York, New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles which especially aimed at helping immigrants to the US. She also founded hospitals in New York, Seattle and Chicago.

She had the Pauline spirit. Here is what she wrote from on board a ship caught in a storm between Panama and Chile. It might be St. Paul writing from the sea just before one of his shipwrecks. I love its dependence on God. Mother Cabrini, like all the saints, knew that what she affirmed was REALITY -- not pious blathering, but the way the world really works when you entrust yourself to God alone.

The winds roar, heavens darken, the waves arise and threaten to turn the steamer topsy-turvy. All this matters nothing. I have given my trust, I must keep my word of honor, and with faith and confidence.

Difficulties! What are they, Daughters? They are the mere playthings of children enlarged by our imagination, not yet accustomed to focus itself on the Omnipotent.

Dangers, dangers! And what are dangers? The specters that surprise the soul, which having given itself to God, or thinking it has done so, still retains the spirit of the world, or at least many sparks of it, which fly up from the ashes and flare at every gust of contrary wind.

‘But I am weak!’ Who is not weak? But with God’s help you can do everything. He never fails the humble and faithful.

‘Yes, but I am so fragile!’ We are all fragile, yet, when Christ is our strength, what shall we fear?

‘I have failed in generosity, I have fallen at the first temptation, now I shall not be able to do anything well.  Who has not been tempted? Who has not somewhere fallen?

Have you fallen? Then, humble yourself, and, with a lively act of contrition from the depths of your heart, ask pardon, renew your promises to God, then get on your feet and be doing with more courage than ever to repair your defects!

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