Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Some times and places

are just magnets for the heroically holy. And Lima, Peru in 1600 was one of those places.

Saints sometimes come in clusters, and Lima was the home of one of the most famous saint-clusters. Many very bright lights of holiness still shine from that place: Turibius of Mogroveio, who was the archbishop there; Francis Solano, a wonder-working missionary preacher; Martin de Porres, a rejected child who became an unmercenary barber-surgeon; and the brightest and scariest light of them all, a reclusive intercession-warrior whose name was Isabel and who everyone called Rose, whose memorial we celebrate today.

Raised relatively well-to-do and somewhat pampered, she realized very early in her life that she had One True Love and he wasn't any of the fine young gents her family kept trying to pair her up with. Once she finally convinced her parents that she wasn't going to get married off, no matter what --- and it took some pretty drastic actions to convince them --- she made a little shed in the garden into her anchor hold and got to work, praying, interceding, doing penance for the sins of her people [have to admit the conquistadors had plenty to repent about!] and growing vegetables and doing needlework to support herself and to be able to give alms. People came to her garden for spiritual advice, and her friend Martin (see above!) was her connection to get her sewing and vegetables where they needed to be. She was also graced with visionary knowledge and suffered with the stigmata in addition to her ordinarily extreme penances.

From the writings of St. Rose of Lima:

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven."

When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemd to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: "Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep aprticipation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul."

"If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men."


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