“If we accept everything from God, our life will become the first verse of an eternal hymn, the dawn of happiness which will never end. Place yourself in the hands of God; see the hand of God in everything; resign yourself entirely to God.” – Cardinal Merry Del Val
When I was in kindergarten, I remember looking around the classroom and wondering who was going to be my friend. You know, not just a friend, but a best friend, a kindred soul. I remember that moment distinctly. Because I struggled with shyness, making friends didn’t come easy. But even as a 5 year old, it was very important to me.
For me, a ‘kindred spirit’ friendship didn’t blossom until 2nd grade. It was well worth the wait. I met Daria – and we soon became the best of all best friends. Our friendship began in my mom’s car, when she was driving us to First Holy Communion rehearsal. In the course of that 10 minute car-ride I realized that this girl was zany and funny and talkative and anything but shy! And the rest is history. Now, over 25 years later, we still keep in touch and share a special bond. From endless phone conversations, to sleep-overs, to the “that’s what friends are for” song, for many years to come our friendship encompassed every facet of life.
How did it happen? I mean, how did we become best friends. Of all those other kids in class, why was it that Daria and I became such chums? Did she choose me, or did i choose her? Or was it something beyond both of us.
Well, since that blessed day in 2nd grade, my understanding of friendship has deepened and matured. But still I wonder about the genesis of friendships and the providence that marks such love from the get-go. I do wonder about it in my natural relationships, but even more so in my supernatural friendships with the saints.
|“Da mihi animas, coetera tolle.”
Give me souls, take away all else.
Have you ever thought of that? Is it something in the saint that attracts us, or is it the other way around. Do the saints choose us? Were you to have asked me this question years back, I would have said: “We choose which saints we are devoted to.” But ask me today, and I think I would have to answer differently.
Let me explain by way of example: Years ago, I prayed the Litany of Humility and was given such tremendous opportunities to practice humility that I thought I would NEVER pray that prayer again. Really, it was miserable. And I wondered who in the world would have EVER dare to write such a prayer (you can imagine my horror to learn that the author prayed it each day after receiving Holy Communion, Oi!).
So I looked up the author: Cardinal Merry del Val. He was the secretary of state of Pope Pius X, died on February 26, 1930. Soon I read a book about him. It wasn’t long before I felt as if I knew him as well as I knew my dearest friends. I began to experience his spiritual closeness in difficult moments. Inevitably, during trying times, someone would randomly bring him up, visit his tomb in the Vatican on my behalf, give me a book about him, paint me his portrait (seen above, marvelously painted by Br. Francis, CFR), etc., etc. I was given one of his ‘buttons’ with his coat of arms on it. I began listening to some of his musical compositions – and the beauty was mysteriously familiar to me. He seemed to take particular delight in befriending me, expressing his care for me, and walking with me as I journey to heaven. Did I choose Merry del Val (to use Pope Pius X expression: “my own Merry”)? No, I think it was the other way around.
This Lent, let us rekindle our spiritual friendships with the Saints and with those holy men and women who went before us. Let us look to their example as we journey to Jerusalem, knowing that this is journey that they have already trod. Let us entrust ourselves to their care and allow them to become a part of every facet of our life!