Friday, November 11, 2011

St. Martin (the Unflappable)

In the seminary, candidates for the priesthood undergo constant evaluation.  One of the rather positive things that kept coming up during my evaluations over the years was that I always seemed so calm--as I recall, "unflappable" was the precise adjective used by the rector on one occasion.  Praise God, despite crazy circumstances, I have--in general--experienced a whole lot of peace in my life.  So I was quite amused when I saw this on the funnies page during breakfast this morning:

(Prudently, Fr. Stitt advised that if I posted this strip without further comment it might be taken by some as a covert cry for help!  But there are days...)

And then, when I sat down with my breviary to pray, I came across the passage below in the Office of Readings (long an annual favorite) for today's memorial of St. Martin of Tours (316-397), the Hungarian-born soldier turned French monk and then bishop who was one of the very first (outside of Biblical figures and the early martyrs) to be widely recognized as a Christian saint:
Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near.…In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone?”…Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him, nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. 
--Sulpicius Severus, from a letter on the death of Saint Martin of Tours

An interesting juxtaposition, no?  (And not just because it's Peanuts next to the Divine Office!)  

There's something to be said for serenity in the face of life's many challenges--when it's one that penetrates beneath the surface, of course.  Oh, to have such an "unconquered spirit"!  To live with such detachment, and willingness to serve!

St. Martin, the "Unflappable," pray for us!

1 comment:

MizzLizz said...

Dear Fr. Joe,
This is a clever cartoon - and I'm sure (for one person) that your ability and willingness to look at situations through the eyes of the gracious and Merciful Lord you gladly serve allows you to be the heartfelt listener you appear to be; for this I am very grateful; I am also quite sure that what you are asked to take in is often quite disturbing and painful, if often there are also moments of joy and gratitude. I wonder if you
have the readiness yet to confront the ugly truth that appears to be fast coming with all the dozens of comparisons made to the Vatican's years of denial. Can you share Jon Stewart's piece this week on the now open scandal at Penn State where finally, the story having held headlines for nearly five days now, has hardly escaped any parishoner or citizen? How do you respond to the idea that sexual abuse is an INDEFENSIBLE CRIME and
ALL have to SPEAK with ONE voice or
we look less aware than the students in PA who still seem not to 'get it'... How about what the OWS folks are teaching the world about a really Democratic approach to the subject? Not easy to contemplate but necessary.(You must notice I have been urging us towards this - the nerve of a poor old grandmother like me!!) I say this because I care - and I assume that you do too and that truth and honesty are the least of what Jesus acquaints with real LOVE. As Dr. King asked many deacdes ago, "Where do we go from here?"
Love/peace, Elizabeth