Today, at Holy Name Cathedral, I was part of a celebration of the blessing of a beautiful statue of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, affectionately known as Mother Cabrini, the first American citizen declared a Saint. She came to America from Italy in the early 1900's to care for the immigrants. But her care extended well beyond serving the Italian immigrants, by reaching out to people of many cultures and languages. Mother Cabrini's influence was felt in many countries, as the Community of Sisters she founded cared for those most in need: the migrant, the refugee, the immigrant.
What made this celebrating deeply moving and significant was the person responsible for having the statue created and sculptured in bronze: Carol Christiansen, a parishioner of St. Teresa of Avila!! Carol has a great love of Mother Cabrini and the religious Community of Sister she founded. The statue has a permanent home just to the left of Holy Name Cathedral and can be seen from State Streetl It is just beautiful!!
Carol had worked hard on making this outdoor shrine a reality that can be embraced by all people walking by. Her image speaks of one who is open and welcoming to all. Carol's perseverance in this creative endeavor reminds me of the widow in today's gospel who keeps asking for assistance from a lazy, sleepy judge. He finally answers her pleas for help, realizing she's not going away and refusing a widow would make God very upset at him.
The widow symbolizes all the most vulenerable people of our own times, people Mother Cabrini would most certainly welcome. Immigrants come to our nation from many areas of the world, fleeing violence and injustice. The Gospel demands that these human beings be treated with love and respect, protecting the dignity given to them by God. Yes, countless are undocumented, and those who have evil intentions need to be rooted out, but the vast majority are simply fleeing for their lives and the lives of loved ones. Many, most undocumented immigrants are working very hard to make a living, so that they can start a new life.
Carol worked very hard in making this statue a reality and her perserverance is a reminder to all of us to never give up in striving to achieve a deeply felt goal. It may take months, years, a lifetime to become a reality. And a particular dream we have may never be realized in this life. What really matters, what counts, is our inner drive not to let pessimism or negative energy defeat us. The trying... the striving will be rewarded in ways inimaginable. Except to God...
Mother Cabrini faced a lot of obstacles: poor health, church leaders, voices telling her to give up, difficult means of traveling. Like the widow, she just kept moving forward, rooted in God's calling and presence. And like Moses in the first reading, she needed the help from people of good will. Moses needed someone to keep him propped up durinng the battle. He couldn't do it alone and neither can we.
Our Eucharist keeps us going by connecting us with each other and the larger Church. We hear the scriptures, we come forward to receive the very Body and Blood of Christ, we leave with spirit and determination, to be like Mother Cabrini, like Carol, like so many others, never giving up hope.
Peace. Joy. Fr Frank
Pray... pray... Act.... pray.... Keep praying....Act.....never give up.