Within the next two weeks, we are offered for our friendship and inspiration: Patrick (March 17), Joseph (March 19) and Oscar Romero (March 24).
Three episodes in Matthew’s Gospel tell the highlights of Joseph’s story at the time of the annunciation, through his travels with Mary and Jesus to and from Egypt, and with relief at the finding of Jesus in the temple. “ Joseph was led by his dreams. His dreams were not always clear or easy. They eventually changed his heart.” (Sr. Madeleva, csj) In these three, mind and heart-stretching times, the silent Joseph nonetheless reminds us of his belief, confident that only good would come out of the situations in which he found himself.
As a slave, a priest and a bishop, Patrick suffered all sorts of setbacks. Opposition to Patrick’s efforts were strong. Some believed his education was defective. He was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission, and in Ireland itself, he came up against the powerful druid leaders, who had a strong hold on the hearts of the people. Patrick showed the Irish the love of God so that the Gospel he preached was felt as well as heard.
Finally, we come to Oscar Romero, our contemporary (d. 1980), who will be canonized in May. He is the only martyr in our trilogy of March saints. Oscar Romero, the Bishop of San Salvador was himself converted to speak out on behalf of the poor through the martyrdom of his Jesuit friend, Rutillo Grande. Not long after, Romero was gunned down by a government marksman while saying Mass. The motive? His decree for canonization says Romero was killed because of “hatred of the faith.” “As a shepherd,” Romero said, “I am obliged to give my life for those I love, for the entire Salvadoran people, including those Salvadorans who threaten to assassinate me. If they should go so far as to carry out their threats, I want you to know that I now offer my blood to God for justice and the resurrection of El Salvador.”
Joseph, Patrick and Oscar were each confident in his own way that God was faithful and would not abandon them as they came to a new, unexpected moment. They lived their lives grappling with demons that could destroy their faith ,integrity and loved ones. They did not fail. It’s almost as though thy each heard the voice of God saying “Do not be afraid." They were not. Today we celebrate their undaunted faith, their unflagging belief that God would be their helmsman and guide.
This dreary cold month, when we want to turn inward instead of outward, let’s walk hand in hand with these three faithful men into our own personal futures where God continues to offer us dreams to guide us, partners to help us make our way and the divine embrace that can be depended upon.
~Sister Joan Sobala
PS. Join us for some Fresh Wind Programs in the next few weeks as well.
Tuesday, March 17: Learn different ways to pray with Sister Mary Louise Heffernan at the SSJ Motherhouse from 10-11:15. Call Sr. Mary Louise if you plan to come at 641-8403.
Wednesday, March 18: Bishop Matthew Clark joins us at the Motherhouse to talk about the Synod on the Family and how the makeup of contemporary families and the Catholic Church relate. The conversation is at the Motherhouse from 7-8:30pm. All welcome to both events!