Archives for: November 2006, 01
Today is All Saints Day, the day when we remember all of those who lived holy lives and now enjoy their eternal reward in heaven. I started my day early in the chapel. Today my class was learning about "discursive meditation," a method of prayer supposedly used by Jesuit novices for more than a century. The idea is simple: use your imagination and intellect to ponder a particular concept, place, or event. The technique was interesting and enjoyable. Here I will share with you the story that came to mind today.
The sun ascends over the Roman skyline as I pass between the massive columns of Saint Peter's Square. Sunshine strikes the facade of the Basilica and sets the columns alight with a warm glow. The air is pleasantly cool. The sunshine provides the perfect amount of warmth as it strikes face. My mind is perfectly at peace.
The place is nearly empty and almost completely silent. A few pigeons take flight as I step onto the cobblestones of the square and walk toward the Basilica. A single man at the center of the square shouts praise to God. His voice carries through the square. The immensity of the space softens his sincere cries, which reverberate quietly against the columns.
As I near the Basilica the square begins to fill with people. There are poor people dressed in rags, kings and queens richly attired, and everyone in between. Soon the square is filled to capacity. I see familiar faces. To my delight Mary, Joseph, Thomas Aquinas, and Therese of Lisieux stand beside me.
The five of us stand together, waiting. I turn to Mary and ask "What is it like to be the Mother of Jesus?" She responds, saying "I have always been the best mother I could be, even though it was often not easy." As she spoke, I thought of her sorrow at the foot of the cross and of her concern while searching for the young Jesus before finding him in the temple.
Joseph speaks up, saying "I have always been there for Jesus and Mary even though other people, at times, looked suspiciously at our family. I was the best parent I could be."
Next I turn to my patron saint, Thomas Aquinas. The man is tall and large with an intimidating disposition. His personality is not particularly warm, but his presence evokes a sense of respect and admiration. I humbly ask him, "How did you accomplish so much for the good of the Church?" He replies, "I worked as hard as I could to comprehend, explain, and defend the faith. I was the best philosopher and theologian I could be." Indeed, he was.
Finally, I turn to Saint Therese of Lisieux. I almost didn't notice her standing there, so quiet and humble. "How could you have such simple, complete faith in a God you could not always see or sense?" I ask her. She explains "Christ expressed his love to me. I always remembered that and returned the favor as best I could - even when it was not easy and doubts surfaced. I was the most faithful spouse I could be."
As Therese finishes her sentence the crowd stirs with excitement. All eyes turn toward the Basilica, where we see Christ descending the massive steps and entering the crowd. The saints are excited but untroubled as Christ nears, but I strain to get a good view. I think he's somewhere over to the left, by the fountain. No, wait. Where is he? Ah, there he is. A wave of excitement washes over me as I realize my fortunate position. He will pass near me, right where I stand.
And soon he does. I wave as he is passing. To my surprise he stops and approaches me. I ask Christ, "How can I best live this day?" He answers me, "All people should live their vocation to the fullest. Today, be the most humble, most perfect seminarian you can be," and he continued on through the crowd.
And so I will. Happy Feast Day!