Today is the memorial for St. Marianne Cope, one of my Top 20 favorite saints. It might be because she was one of 10 children as am I. Her family emigrated from Germany to make their home in Utica, New York while I grew up about 3 hours from there.
But, I know it is also because she came to the help and aid of one of my Top 10 saints, St. Damien of Molokai. Having married a Matthew Damian and having my own Damian Joseph, along with a Dad whose parents emigrated from Belgium; he has a very special place in my life.
St. Marianne was well-loved in the Syracuse area where in 1870 (1870!!!) she was made head administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital (remember that little fact the next time someone tells you the Church doesn’t appreciate women, we had women hospital administrators in 1870.)
However, she willingly left that role when her order was asked to help with the lepers of Molokai. She said, “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders….” She willingly went to do good for God without knowing what the future might hold.
Oh, that I could create a heart that went willingly to see helping others as a privilege. If I could awake each morning and say as she did making the prayer more personal for my situation:
“I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of my husband and my children.”
Oh, how hard that will be. Too many days, I would be more eager to go help lepers than my own family. But, I have not been called to Molokai but to Elkton. I have not been asked to help the lepers beyond my prayers. I am a wife and mother whose vocation is fused as one with the sacrament of marriage. I have my mission, though on too many days the thought of Hawaii makes me yearn for a different life. But that is not the life I was called to.
Today’s gospel, Mark 3:31-35 tells me as much:
……”But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”
So, tonight I’ll will make myself content with thoughts of warm breezes, perhaps a listen to Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of Somewhere over the Rainbow or watch Lilo and Stitch with my kids and renew my commitment to going good for God by doing good for my family. I know St. Marianne Cope will approve.