14 February 2015

Under the mantle of a saint

Following the creation of the twenty new Cardinals, the Holy Father Pope Francis approved the request of the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for the canonization of Blessed Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve, Blessed Mary Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, and Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Baouardy.

It was the approval of this third canonization that caught my attention, partly because I know something of Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (a stigmatic who both levitated and bilocated) but not of the other two. Vatican Radio offered a brief summary of her life (and of the other two, as well):
Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Baouardy was born Maria Baouardy in Abellin, a village in Upper Galilee, near Nazareth, in 1846 of Arab parents. She was baptized in the Melchite Greek Catholic Church. From early youth she experienced many sufferings together with extraordinary mystic phenomena. In France, she entered the Carmel of Pau. She was sent to India to found new Carmels, and then to Bethlehem, where she died in 1878. She was beatified by St John Paul II in 1983.
When I was in the Holy Land with Steve Ray (with whom you should go on pilgrimage), we visited the Carmelite monastery in Bethlehem where the relics of the only Arab Palestinian to be raised to the glory of the altars are enshrined.

Immediately after we celebrated the Holy Mass in honor of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, we venerated the relics of Blessed Mary, frequently called "the little Arab," which the Carmelites allowed us to do so while wearing her mantle:

PHOTO: Steve Ray
PHOTO: Steve Ray
I didn't realize I had so much grey hair in the back.

PHOTO: Steve Ray
Two of Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified's sayings seems particularly apt as we quickly approach Ash Wednesday, the first of which is this: "Everything passes here on earth. What are we? Nothing, dust, nothingness, and God is so great, so beautiful, so lovable and He is not loved!"

The second saying is very much like the first: "I am nothing, I can do nothing, but You can do all. I hope in divine mercy."

It sometimes happens that we spend so much of our attention on our Lenten penances - on how difficult they are or on how they can benefit us - that we focus more on ourselves than on God. This should not be so! Our penances should instead help to remind us that we are dust, that we are nothing, and yet that we are loved by God. In this way our penances should lead us to love God who first loved us (cf. I John 4:10).

Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified considered herself as a "little nothing." May she intercede for us and wrap her mantle around us, that we might come to consider ourselves the same.

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