My ordinary morning time of prayer led me in a different direction than usual today. I was surprised by the words I found in my hour of prayer and decided to share them with you rather than my usual thoughts about the Scriptures for this Wednesday of the 24th week in Ordinary Time.
Today we Franciscans keep the memory of St. Joseph Cupertino, a 16th century Italian Franciscan priest who was renowned for his "obedience." His writings bear the mark of a soul who has plumbed the depths of that evangelical virtue. I found his remarks particularly apt as I read them today:
Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a person trains himself to act of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what we have as a unique possession. God is therefore most pleased if we renounce our own will and place ourselves completely in God's hand.
As a fruit tree bears most fruit when it is carefully tended, so we proceeding along the way of God mus always grow and advance in virtue so that we can bear the choicest fruits of sanctity; give an example of virtue to draw others and lead them safely to the way of the Lord. To bear sufferings and misfortunes patiently for the love of God must be considered a special grace which God grants to those who love him.
As our Lord Jesus Christ endured so many bitter sufferings for our sake so God wants us also to share in his sufferings. Surely, if you are gold, tribulation will purify you of dross; if you are iron, your rust will be scoured off.
The words in bold struck a very powerful chord with me as I continue to find purpose in my own disabilities and chronic illnesses. St. Joseph Cupertino reminds me this morning that my suffering is a special grace which God has given to me. Special graces deserve special acts of praise and thanksgiving. I hope my day will render praise and thanks to God for all the good things I have experienced through God.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator