Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Obedience And Holiness

If you haven't read this, I would recommend it: John Allen's interview with Cardinal Levada of CDF concerning the ongoing controversy with the American LCWR.   The Cardinal is very direct in his answers and he even goes so far as to suggest what might happen if the leaders of the LCWR do not cooperate. 

I also note that he stresses the need for obedience: these ladies are consecrated religious with a vow of obedience - a vow which is ultimately made to the Pope.  Some sisters might dispute this.  I remember discussing this with an Irish sister who insisted that her vow of obedience was to her community and congregation, not to the Pope - he had no authority over them.  Well, he does. 

Interestingly Cardinal Ouellet said something similar in his homily at the Statio Orbis: he spoke of the Pope as our spiritual father and reminded us that we must be obedient to him.  Obedience is seen as a negative by many in the Church today, and yet when we look to Jesus we see One who was utterly obedient to his Eternal Father - obedient to the point of giving up his life on the cross.  If Jesus was prepared to lay down his life in obedience, then consecrated religious, who are supposed to modelling their lives on Christ's, must be prepared to do the same, although the most they will be asked to do is to die to self.  

And in other news: as we were celebrating the Statio Orbis, in Nepi in Italy a new Beata was being raised to the altars, the young Blessed Cecilia Eusepi, an extraordinary young woman who was a member of Catholic Action and died at the age of 18.   She was a Third Order Servite.

Cecilia was born in Monte Romano on the 17th February 1910: just over a month after her birth her father died.  A paternal uncle assisted her mother Paolina in raising the little girl.  When she was five they moved to Nepi where she began her schooling under Cistercian nuns.   In 1922 she joined Catholic Action and discerned a vocation to the Servite Third Order, being clothed in the Order's scapular on the 14th February 1922 and taking the name Sr Maria Angela. 

In 1923 she entered the Mantellate Sisters Servants of Mary, but due to bad health she had to leave after three years.  In 1926 peritonitis and inflammation of the lungs were diagnosed and Cecilia began her vocation of suffering.  At this time she meta Servite priest, Fr Gabriele Roschini who, recognising her holiness, became her spiritual director and guided her in the last years of her life.  In obedience to him she wrote her autobiography which she titled The Story of a Clown.

Developing intestinal TB, Cecilia succumbed to it on the 1st October 1928.  Her remains were interred in the burial chapel of the Gregori family and her tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage where many graces were granted through her intercession.  She was declared Venerable by Blessed John Paul II on the 1st June 1987 and beatified last Sunday.

Like St Therese, Blessed Cecilia's life was short, hidden and yet extraordinary.  She grew in virtue and impressed all who knew her.  Like Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Blessed Cecilia prove that holiness can be attained by all, even the young.  May she intercede for all of us and we pray that the Lord will soon grant a miracle through her intercession so she may be enrolled among the Saints soon.

Given the subject of the first part of this post, I would suggest that Blessed Cecilia offers the sisters of LCWR a wonderful example of dedication to God, dying to self, obedience to Christ and his Church, and that humility which opens one's heart to God's grace making one a shining example of holiness for all to see.

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