St. Mariam Baouardy, the "little Arab", had a mystical vision as to why God often favors the most prodigal. Though she lived a remarkably pure life, dying young in a Carmelite cloister, she wrote:
"In Heaven, the most beautiful souls are those that have sinned the most and repented. But they made use of their miseries like manure around the base of the tree." Those are scandalous words to so many good Christians, and yet we remember Jesus' words to Dismas, the Good Thief: "This day you will be with me in paradise." St. Faustina Kowalska adds her own startling claim: "the more miserable the sinner, the greater claim they have to [His] mercy." Roy Schoeman explored this idea when he hosted me on his radio show. St. Paul alludes to this in Romans V: "Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded the more."
|St. Mariam Baouardy, one of God's simple souls|
On a recent episode of The Journey Home, Jeff Gardner describes the seminal moment of his conversion. He was an arrogant academic living in Paris doing research with medieval manuscripts. On his way to a Paris library early in the morning, he passed a homeless man slumped in a subway gutter. He could tell the man wasn't merely asleep or drunk, but was in dire need of medical help. But Jeff pressed on, convinced that his career and his manuscripts were more pressing than the person of the bum. But God wasn't having it. St. Francis appeared to him in a vision. Francis was beaten, bloodied and poor. He was wholly united with his crucified savior, the God who loves the poor. St. Francis gave the academic a level gaze and warned,
"Remember, God created the world to protect the simple, and to torment the arrogant."
Thanksgiving for Chris
About six months ago Chris had a remarkable experience which echoes some of the central themes I have written about on this blog. It was a "waking vision" in the twilight of morning. Chris arose in the half- fog of sleep, and knelt on some pillows on the floor to pray. As he prostrated his forehead to the floor, his mind was narrowed to an interior vision. He saw before him a clearing in a mountain pass. He saw a woman seated on a bench with her head bowed. He knew it was Mary, the mother of our savior, and he saw that tears were falling down her face. Blessed Mary's posture and dress were the same as her appearance to the shepherd children at La Salette in the French Alps.
|Our Lady of La Salette|
Chris tentatively approached and gently asked, "How can I help you?" Mary looked up at him and asked, "Will you drink the chalice of suffering?" Chris instinctively withdrew, protesting, "I'm too little." Then the vision ended.