Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spiritual Friendship

Readings for Wednesday, August 11/Feast of Sts. Philomena & Clare:
Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22
Psalm 113:1-6
Matthew 18:15-20

“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

What an endorsement for community – the Lord telling us that if two or three gather in His name He is present! It is built into our nature to be part of a community. It may be a neighborhood community, a community of friends, a community based on a common interest, or a community that comes together for prayer and worship – but every one of us is part of a community.

But when we think about being a part of a community, do we think about the saints? It is easy to focus only on our earthly communities because they are the ones that we can see, touch, and interact with in an experiential way. Yet, we must also realize that the saints in heaven can be some of our most powerful bonds of friendship because they are always with us, are always praying for us, and are a constant inspiration for us to seek after holiness.

About five years ago a friend of mine introduced me to a little saint name Philomena, whose image we have here in the sanctuary and whose feast we celebrate today, together with Saint Clare. There isn’t much know about Saint Philomena’s life, but we know that she was martyred in the third century at the age of 13. She had consecrated her virginity to Christ and because she would not break it, she was killed by the Roman emperor Diocletian’s soldiers. As I read the story of this little saint’s life and the numerous miracles worked by her, I began to fall in love. In the five years since then, I have been blessed to have her constant friendship and guidance. And as I arrived here at Our Lady of Mercy I was excited to find that there is a group that gathers here to discuss the life and death of this powerful young saint and to pray together as a community for her intercession.

It has been a true blessing to have the friendship of Saint Philomena and I would suggest that each of you nurture a relationship with a saint who speaks to your own heart and with whom you can relate closely. And as the Lord shows us today the value of a community through which we can come into His presence, let us be thankful for the lives of the saints who give us examples to live by and sustain us with their prayers which are constantly lifted up to God.