Posted by: fvbcdm | November 13, 2014

Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (13 November 2014)

When I was a teenager, I had the tremendous opportunity to attend a “Sing Week” (actually, ten days) at the Trapp Family Music Camp in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I got to meet most of the members of that famous, singing family upon whose life the movie “The Sound of Music” was based. The youngest child of the Captain’s first wife was a young woman named Martina.  Just a few years after I was there, Martina married and sadly for her equally young husband, she died in the attempt to give birth to their first child.  Some years later, her step-mother, the Baroness Maria von Trapp, recounted in one of her books that of all the messages of condolence which the family received on the occasion of Martina’s death, the one that touched her the most was one from the Abbot of the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani in Kentucky.  The Abbot wired very simply, “We envy you your sorrow, and Martina her heaven.”

That is a profoundly Christian sentiment. We can envy those who have been blessed by God with a beloved child, brother, sister, relative, or friend and must then mourn their passage into eternal life. We do not mourn for the one who died, but rather for those on earth who lose him or her. On the contrary, we envy the one who died the immense joy that he or she now experiences by being with God forever. On November 8, we Dominicans pray for all our deceased brothers and sisters who have gone before us into eternal life. This is the special day on which we pray for them in case they need our prayers because they are being detained in purgatory to atone for any sins. In a reading from the works of Saint Cyprian which is used in the liturgy on that day, that saint and martyr reprimands those Christians who speak and act as if death were a terrible calamity and disaster. “How can we claim to be people of hope, and to look forward to being with Jesus our Lord, and then fear and dread death as if it were the ultimate evil and danger?” he asks. Granted, separation from loved ones is very painful, but on the other hand, they are going to an eternal reward if they have lived according to God’s holy will, and if we live the same way, we will soon be together again. With this in mind, let us think today of the meaning of the Trappist monk’s message: We envy you your sorrow, and Martina her heaven. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.


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