Monday, April 16, 2012

Saint Benedict Joseph

Today in the monastery we celebrate the memorial of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre. Many of the monks are fond of him and greatly admire his simplicity. Benedict Joseph attempted unsuccessfully to enter a number of monasteries. He never fit in, was judged unstable and was always sent on his way. He ended up as a wandering pilgrim, praying incessantly. Our missal entry for this morning's Mass listed him as Saint Benedict Joseph, Fool for Christ. As we celebrate his life and holiness this day, it seems it would be of little use use to us and give him no fitting honor, should we try to imitate his so-called foolishness. Benedict Joseph did not set out to be a fool. Like all who are truly poor, he simply had no choice. It would seem that deep within him two forces met and struggled- on the one hand his very real physical and psychological weaknesses and incapacities and on the other his very ardent desire to love Jesus with every fiber of his being. It was this love that gratefully took over his life. It is only this folly of love that we dare to imitate. May all our personal weaknesses and disabilities of whatever kind make us depend more and more on Christ Jesus, whose power will be made perfect in our weakness.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre was born in  Amettes, France in 1748 and died as a beggar in Rome in 1783. The portrait was painted by Antonio Cavallucci in 1795.