Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers!"

Never underestimate the value of the "unlikely hero" in the pursuit for holiness.

Sometimes it's not even a person, but a thing. Such was the case yesterday, as the Church honored St. Ignatius of Loyola. In his case, the "hero" was a cannonball; the cannonball that shattered his leg and forced him to convalesce with nothing to read except books on the life of Christ and the saints. This led to his question about whether he could live the heroic life of a saint, which led him to form the Society of Jesus. Think about it: No cannonball = no injury. No injury = no time to consider where his life was going and what he wanted to do with it.

Today we honor St. Alphonsus Ligouri, who by his mid 20s was well-entrenched in the legal profession in the Kingdom of Naples. This was a bright man; a prodigy who had degrees in canon as well as civil law. The story is told that, after experiencing first-hand a corrupt legal system in the Kingdom of Naples, St. Alphonsus turned away from a career in the law and began to seriously discern a call to the Priesthood. The "hero" here? A corrupt lawyer? A crooked judge? A witness who'd say anything? We don't know, but without whomever would we have had the Redemptorist Order today?

Think about other saints and what they experienced. Would St. Elizabeth Ann Seton have gone down to Baltimore (eventually to form the Daughters of Charity) if she wasn't treated like an outcast by the society crowd of New York City after becoming a Catholic? What if St. Paul was only a mildly observant Jew? Would the upstart Christians have irked him enough to head down to Damascus in an effort to drag them back to Jerusalem for trial?

So, if you're feeling that someone or something is setting you back on your road to holiness, don't lament it; embrace it. It might be what "puts you over the top"!

In fact, learn from the examples of the saints. While we may not come across cannonballs all that often today, there's certainly a fair amount of lawyers still out there!

1 comment:

deb said...

True - but there are also lawyers like those heading the New Jersey Right to Life who have assisted with successful constitutionally based challenges to legislation permitting partial birth abortion. And St. Thomas More is not a bad role model either.