He was very frail and sickly. Everything seemed to go wrong with him. Many despised him. He had a tough life. And yet he was so serene.
He was once asked what his secret was. He was surprised at the question. He did not even realize there was something special about him. Saints are always the last to be aware of their goodness.
“You have all these mishaps. So many things went off the beam in your life. Don’t you feel all these blows?” The man replied, “Yes I do. They hurt a lot but they don’t leave a lasting wound.”
“How is this possible? You must have a special ointment that tone down these blows. What is it?”
“Yes, I do have an ointment. When people lie about me and say wicked things, I have the ointment of compassion. The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination. When I get sick and pain wrecks my body, I use the ointment of prayer. I found this very good. And when the wound bleeds and hurts excessively, I keep repeating to myself, “My good doctor wants it.”
“Your doctor?” “Yes!” said the good man pointing at the Crucifix… “If pain comes, that means the doctor is curing me of a deeper condition!”
There is a power in Jesus Christ that many of us fail to exploit. Saturninus was lynched by the pagan priests of the city and ordered to renounce his faith or face death. Saturninus held firm to his faith and his refusal encouraged the priests to execute him cruelly. They tied him to a wild bull by his feet and then let the bull run free through the city. Saturninus was dragged to death; his body was later found by some of the faithful and reverently cared for.
We modern Christians should take inspiration from the words that he in 305 addressed to the Roman judge who earlier on, had him arrested for participating in the Saturday night Eucharist. “The Christian cannot live without the Eucharist. Do you not know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian?”
The Cure of Ars spoke of the same secret in a humorous dialogue with one of his parishioners, who rather meanly told him, “I really marvel at God… how He is able to make use of an ass like you to do so much good!!”
“My son” replied the Cure promptly, “one can tell that you don’t know the Scriptures well!” “What do the Scriptures have to do with it?”
“Well, the Scriptures say that that Samson managed to kill thousand Philistines with just the jawbone of a donkey. Imagine what God can do with a whole ass like me!?”
You see it is never about our power of endurance. It is always about his eagerness to act in our favour.
As the psalmist sings, “Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes fixed on things beyond me, in the quiet I have stilled my soul, like a child at rest on its mother’s breast, I have stilled my soul within me.” Like a baby relaxed and unruffled after having been nursed – this is where God wants to lead us – humility coupled with trust.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.