My Patron, My Spiritual Friend

Today the Church celebrates a giant of the faith – St. John Paul II. Today I personally celebrate this man who has had such a huge influence on me even though I never met him.

My conversion to the Catholic Faith is in no small part due to to John Paul II. His writings and holiness of life made me proud to enter the Catholic Church. I was proud of him and how he showed the world the beauty of the Catholic faith.

John Paul II’s love for the Virgin Mary has always been a great inspiration to me. Although my devotion to the Mother of God pales in comparison, he helped me to see the necessity of turning towards our Mother that she may show us how to love her Son.

Faced with illness for the greater part of my life, John Paul II was a wonderful example of how to embrace the cross and redemptive suffering. In the midst of such a great pontificate, his last days spoke more to me than any other. How can we forget his embracing the cross with devotion and love on the last Good Friday?

When the time came for me to make my oblation I knew without a doubt that St. John Paul II would be my spiritual guide. His name I would take as I made my oblate promises. I sought not only his prayers and guidance but a small part of his spirit too. St. John Paul II is the epitome of a Benedictine even though he was never one.

Obedience to the will of God lead John Paul II to places he never could have imagined. Stability kept him close to the deposit of faith, his beloved Poland and to the world. Conversatio Morum was his way of life as he strove to live Christ more fully in his state in life.

I am privileged to be called a son of St. Benedict. I am honor to have St. John Paul II pray for me that I might be worthy of such a life.

St. John Paul (the Great), pray for us!

A Better Understanding of Community

It has taken me much longer to recover from the two surgeries I’ve had. As difficult as it has been, my inability at times to say the Divine Office has caused me more difficulty and pain than the recovery.

Recently, I came to realize that the community I am attached to – St. Meinrad – with all its monks and oblates, has always been taking upon itself the duties to the Divine Office even when I could not.

I am not the community but part of it. When I am sick I must recognize that the community becomes my voice at prayer. Although it may await the return of my voice in the Office, it is not dependent on it. And although my voice must once again take up that same Office, I must remind myself that my brothers and sisters have been praying for me, with me, and even in my place, all along.

My obligation to the community of St. Meinrad also implies that in some small way it has an obligation to me. Through oblation I was brought into the fold, thus allowing me to not only strive to meet my obligations but to also participate in the fruits of others.

Real community is reciprocal. It does not count the cost. I’ve learned a very good lesson about community over the past few months and I’m grateful I did.

It has been a humbling experience to recognize that my voice has been united in the Divine Office with, in, and through my oblate confreres and the monks. And I’m deeply grateful that I have these individuals to rely on when life gets in the way.