Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saint Rafael Arnáiz Barón

Saint Rafael's monastic life was hardly typical. Four months after entering the Trappist monastery of San Isidro in Spain, he was smitten by a very serious form of diabetes, and he had to return home for treatment. And so it was again and again between 1935 and 1937. And this was at the height of the Spanish Civil War.

On his final return to the monastery, Rafael was allowed only to be an oblate of the monastery, taking the last place and living on the fringes of the community. He died in the abbey infirmary on 26 of April 1938 after a final illness; he was only 27 years old.

Saint Rafael let himself be led by Christ through a series of bewildering contradictions- illness, war, the impossibility of ever pronouncing vows, difficult community relations. Humiliations were constant, but Rafael learned to surrender himself in peace and joy.

Things often do not turn out as we had hoped or planned. And we learn that contradictions and dead ends are part of the journey. But what to do with them? Saint Rafael shows us a way. Despite all he had to endure, he simply refused ever to be selfish or self-absorbed. He simply loved- Christ, Our Lady, the Cross, his brothers.