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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

WHO IS YOUR HERO?


Pondering today the Saints and what I have learned about them since I journeyed into the Catholic Faith. Our daughter who is in the process of discerning the Vocation of a Nun...sparked this writing from the heart. Saint Jeanne Jurgin is her Patron Saint and she will celebrate her Feast Day, Aug 30th in a special way. Just pondering...... and so happy I am a part of such a BIG FAMILY....the FAMILY of GOD.   


We’ve been busy lately and watched bits and pieces of the Olympics going on…. From what we have heard and seen the U.S. of A is doing pretty good. Can you imagine the “heroes” that are being created in the hearts of us ALL and making us ALL proud to be an American? Young folks dreaming of being just like them and becoming a “GREAT” athlete and just maybe one day their dream of competing in the Olympics will come true, if they work hard and study from those who “did it.” Without work and devotion to a chosen sport….one will never go far in that sport without sacrifices.

Growing up in the Protestant faith I never really understood “why” Catholic’s admired and sometimes seemed like they worshiped the Saints. It was as if I was looking into a picture window…seeing all the activity…could not hear what they were saying…and came to some very false conclusions.  Finally by stepping beyond the window, entering that room and learning what was really going on… I finally got it and have come to love the inspiration in which the Saints “who” have gone before us…. “who” …. walked the walk … and talked the talk, a Christian totally surrendered to Christ. A Christian that gave their whole life to the Lord….. Not parts of it…all. Saints were not born a saint… they were just like us and had their crosses to bear and growth to endure.  As an Ex-Protestant…sure we recognized the Saints of the Bible as being great and in many ways we were taught to try to live our lives like them. I loved Saint Peter…. He messed up so many times, denied Christ three times and God still loved him and used him to be head of His Church. Saint Peter persevered and became BOLD for the faith, even died a cruel death for the faith.

Being a Protestant my saint list stopped around 100 AD….not realizing we had 2,000 years of history that was made up of men and women that persevered daily and surrendered daily their lives to Christ. Oh my….some of their stories teach me so much… like what it really means to be humble, what it really means to love your neighbor as yourself, what it means to truly open oneself up and serve God….. totally. Their stories show me the sinner I really am and areas I need to grow in the faith. I have so much to learn from them…so far to go.  I’ve learned that reading about their lives…. is much like an athlete who tries to mirror their lives after an Olympian… to become a great athlete. In today’s world we all have our heroes and desires to be like someone else… We even dream of being someone we know is out of our reach, such a rock star or a great actor, an NFL player and the list goes on……. Why is a Saint and the life they lived for Christ not important to us…why are we not striving to become like them? Why is it more important to be a rock star in today’s world?

When I became Catholic my uncle gave me the 4 Volume; Butler Lives of the Saints….. 365 days of the year stories of great men and women of the faith. I’ve got a few favorites…Saint Monica (my patron saint), Saint Mother Mary, Saint John Bosco, Saint John Vianney, Saint Teresa of Lisieux, Saint Teresa of Avila….. great stories of faith. I look forward to when the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Blessed Pope John Paul II finally become canonized. Their life stories of living the faith are remarkable. And I still love Saint Peter my first Saint…first true love…LOL

Our daughter Jeanine has now chosen Saint Jeanne Jurgan as her Patron Saint and she will now celebrate her birthday on Saint Jeanne feast day. Guess I will have to learn more about Saint Jeanne and ask her daily to pray for our Jeanine as she follows her heart to become a Benedictine Nun. Our Jeanine shared with us…she chose her because they shared the same name. She wanted to keep her given name.. if and when she takes her final vows. One step at a time… That kinda makes a parent proud that their child loves the name given to them at birth. From what I have observed the Sister’s at Holy Angels are always celebrating a Feast Day.  They are celebrating with such joy and excitement…..like we celebrate New Year’s. In many ways the Feast Days of the Church tell an exciting story about our Christian faith and should help encourages us in our Christian journey (I’m learning). Whether it be a special day of remembering a Saint or the Feast of Corpus Christis, Feast of The Immaculate Conception, Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord……. We should be celebrating and giving thanks to our Lord for every “Feast” each one so different and unique and all pointing us to Christ. In so many ways I can understand why the Sister’s give up celebrating their birthdays and now celebrate their Patron Saint’s day. To live the Religious Life one must give up self in so many ways that we laypeople can’t even grasp… I know.. I’ve seen it firsthand. 

To think about it with the mind of this world…it makes no sense. But to sum it up…….they are so happy serving our Lord in their vocation. Many of the Sisters have shared their testimony with us. They had it all…. career, money, house, car….. but something was missing. They finally found it in their vocation in which the Lord was calling them. It is not an easy life and I don’t want to paint it that way… It is hard. As hard as it is and can be…. They are at peace and have such joy in what they have been called to do. I think we should try to learn some things from the “ways” of the “Religious Life.” Who knows…when the fires and trails come our way….we just might hang onto our joy.

Another thing I learned about Saints when I decided to go beyond the window. We have the Militant Church one still fighting against sin, error and persecution. That’s us… 

We also have the Triumphant Church those that are described in Rev. 7:9-10,16-17…….. 9After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; 
10and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb. . 
16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat: 
17for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. Rev. 5:6-8 6And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. 
7And he came, and he taketh it out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. 
8And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense,  which are the prayers of the saints.                                                                        

Eph. 5:31-32; this great scripture passage is about marriage and how we become “One Flesh” united as one with the Lord in marriage.  This scripture reading ends giving us an example in what the author is trying to tell us, 32: This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of Christ and the church are “One.” 
We are “One” in the Lord the Millitant Church and the Triumphant Church.  

Note: We also have the "Church Suffering" and they are also members of the Body of Christ and will blog about them another day...


As a Protestant I knew I could take all my prayer needs to Jesus and he would hear them… I also shared many of my prayer requests with other believers in hopes they would go to Jesus with my need. Now that I stopped looking into the window…and learned what it means to pray to…..to talk…to ask... a Saint that is now a part of the Triumphant Church…to go to my Jesus for help as a member of the Body of Christ…still journeying in the Militant Church, one still fighting against sin, error and persecution. It gives me so much hope in knowing they are praying…they will not forget or be to busy… the golden bowls are full of all our prayer requests… it just takes an act of faith to place them into the bowls…. I know they take them to Jesus.. 


A recent convert to the faith shared these words with me about her wonderful experience in finding the CHURCH and the SAINTS.
"That moment when you realize that, outside of the authority of the Church and its gift of the Eucharist, one of the biggest gifts that you have received is family - this HUGE family that spans time and space and that loves and prays for you and that you love and pray for.  Prior to the Church, I had Jesus and it's true that in a reductionist sense, He's all you need.  But since believing the truth about the Church, it's been like discovering that I was a part of a family that I didn't know - and now I do know them (or am getting to know them.)
Basically, I want to make that meme with the crazy person drawing that says "____ all the ____" and edit it to say, "Love ALL the saints!" 


I could not agree more with her...

In conclusion… to model ourselves or try to learn from a Saint is really learning from a Pro….. how to be like Jesus. How to let God mold us into all He wants us to be. In the end that is God’s purpose for us all… Romans 8:28-29; We know all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. Think about this…. The Book of Romans was a letter written to the first Christians… they were the first born within a large family. This large family has really grown the last 2,000 years.  We know God is always working in our lives, even if we do not acknowledge it. He predestined us all…when He formed us in our mother’s womb. Paul is telling the early church…all things work together for good for those who love God and whatever joys, trails, hardships we may endure in this life time…. He will use it to teach, to show His Love and the big picture in which He uses many things in our lives to help sanctify us….to conform us into the image of His son. It is a process and we cannot do this without His help and guidance. We also cannot do it without the help of His Body... The Church. We are a Big Family and those who have reach the heavenly realms…are still with us and are praying for us in such a special way…

Here are some facts about Saint Jeanne Jurgan:
She was born in 1792 and died 1879 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

After learning a few facts about her, she does have the same name as our Jeanine, but I know my daughter has always had a heart for the elderly and I'm convinced St. Jurgan might have chosen our Jeanine. They do have some common interest. 

Jeanne is a Saint for every age as she challenges young people to give themselves to God and neighbor.
She is a role model for those who care for the poor, the sick and the aging.
To those who feel anxious in these tough economic times, she offers an invitation to live the Beatitudes, trusting that God will provide.
She challenges all of us to do everything through love.
Jeanne is a friend of God and a hero for the poor. She is a Gospel witness for our time and a Saint for all times!

Growing up in hard times
Jeanne Jugan grew up in a small town in revolutionary France. Times were tough. Violence ruled the day. For thousands, begging was a way of life.
Those who openly practiced their faith were not merely ridiculed—they were imprisoned or killed. Jeanne received her faith formation—secretly and at great risk—from her mother and a group of women who belonged to an ecclesial movement of the day.
By the time Jeanne was four years old her father had been lost at sea. Her mother found odd jobs to make ends meet. Neighbor helped neighbor. As a young girl Jeanne worked as a shepherdess. She learned to knit and spin wool. Later she went to work as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family.

Jeanne barely learned to read and write. Her education consisted mostly of on-the-job training in the school of real life. Neither beautiful nor talented in the usual sense, she was gifted with an extraordinary heart. Jeanne was on fire with love for God!
Those who let themselves be seized by the love of Christ cannot help abandoning everything to follow him… Barely out of her teens, Jeanne felt the call of divine love. Preparing to leave home, she told her mother “God wants me for himself. He is keeping me for a work which is not yet founded.”
Jeanne took the road less traveled, setting out to work among the poor and forsaken in a local hospital.
Jeanne meets Christ in the Poor
Many years went by before Jeanne discovered her vocation. Finally, one cold winter night she met Jesus Christ in the person of an elderly, blind and infirm woman who had no one to care for her. Jeanne carried the woman home, climbed up the stairs to her small apartment and placed her in her own bed. From then on, Jeanne would sleep in the attic.
God led more poor old people to her doorstep. Generous young women came to help. Like Jeanne, they wanted to make a difference. Like her, they believed that “the poor are Our Lord.” A religious community was born!
There were so many old people in need of a home, so many souls hungry for love! The work rapidly spread across France and beyond. Struck by their spirit of humble service, local citizens dubbed the group the Little Sisters of the Poor. The name stuck!
For herself Jeanne chose the religious name Sister Mary of the Cross. She would live it in its fullness.…
Jeanne is grafted into the cross
The work of the Little Sisters continued to spread, borne by the wind of the Spirit. So did Jeanne’s renown—until one day she was mysteriously cast aside by an ambitious priest who had taken over the direction of the young community.
Jeanne was replaced as superior and sent out begging on behalf of the poor. And then one day she was placed in retirement, relegated to the shadows. At the time of her death 27 years later, the young Little Sisters didn’t even know that she was the foundress.
Jeanne had often told them, “We are grafted into the cross and we must carry it joyfully unto death.” How she lived these words! What a radiant example of holiness she gave to generations of Little Sisters!



The following are some links to learn more about Holy Angles in Jonesboro, AR.