A Reluctant Sinner has an excellent post on the life of St Joseph Benedict Labre. Dylan's blog just seems to get better and better each week.

I must say I have a real liking for 'loser' Saints. I call St Joseph Benedict Labre a 'loser' Saint, because while all the Saints go against the grain of secular cultural values, I have a particular liking for St Joseph Benedict Labre because even when he had decided what to do, by becoming a Trappist, as well as being of frail mental and physical health, it seems that he just didn't 'fit in' at the monastery. Nothing seems to have gone according to plan. And yet...

He is a patron of people who refuse to conform or cannot conform and fit in with society, community, or even religious communities, only to be met with bemusement. He wasn't attention seeking, he wasn't performing marvels or building great projects, he simply loved Christ. He preferred nothing to His love. He died at 35 and lived off what he found to eat. Living the life of a tramp his life appears to be a monumental failure until he died and children starting crying out 'the Saint is dead!'

Personally, I don't know what my achievements are. I don't feel that I have any whatsoever. People like St Benedict Joseph Labre I draw comfort from because his glory was hid from the World until Christ wished the Church to know of it, unlike other great Saints like St Anthony of Padua and St Francis of Assisi, who were known well as Wonderworkers. He seems to have wanted to go nearly completely unnoticed through his time in this World. That glory appears to be something so simple that the World could well miss it, like so many in Rome would have. That glory is the love of God - the love of the Lord Jesus and Our Lady.

It may well be that for many of us today, our achievements are small and success appears to us to be elusive. St Joseph Benedict Labre teaches us that failure can be success and success, failure. It may be that we don't appear to ourselves or to others to change the World in any special way. It may be that our only achievements have been and will be wrought by our prayers. It may be that as we go like tramps digging around bins, in terms of our own life, that we appear to make little progress either in our lives or in loving God.

St Joseph Benedict Labre teaches us that our prayers may be the most important achievements of all. For not long after he had collapsed outside St Mary Major, his favourite Church, the children cried out, 'the Saint is dead!' Yet, he doesn't seem to have actually 'done' very much at all. A man with no abiding community or city, or shower, he did, however, seem to go on as many pilgrimages as he could manage. He is, perhaps quite rightly, the Saint that even Catholic parents do not want their children to know about. And who can blame them? Parents don't spend their time delousing their little children only for them to later become...St Joseph Benedict Labre...Ora pro nobis! I believe I may have unwittingly honoured St Joseph Benedict Labre today by missing my dental appointment accidentally.

Yes, kids, you can be a tramp and be a Saint! I very much doubt the Holy Father will read this, but, regardless, Happy Birthday to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. May God bless His Holiness with long life and may He be generous to us so that His Holiness may continue to reign gloriously for a long, long time! Viva Il Papa!


Eddie Asner said…
Well, one of your accomplishments is that you are a great writer! That is a pretty big one, too,
The Bones said…
That's very kind but I wasn't fishing!

Glory to God!
Many angels and saints come into my neighborhood only to be chased out or completely neglected by us...

One day we will be held accountable for all we have failed to do while we lounged in the lap of luxury and self-importance.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Thank you for writing so beautifully what I was trying to say in my rambling post... In fact, I was thinking of you and your devotion to the homeless when I was writing it.

Thank you for your kind words, too - much appreciated :-)
The Bones said…
Your article was grand.
The Bones said…
Re: St Joseph Benedict Labre

I may know a few homeless chaps but our diets, sanitation, head infestation and lifestyle are, unfortunately, worlds apart.
Lynda said…
You certainly don't "hide your light under a bushel", thanks be to God!