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'I Have Called You' View Comments
By Kristina M. Santos

IT WAS STARTLING in our quiet church to hear a cellphone ring out the tune of “When the Saints
Go Marching In.”

It was the Sunday between Christmas and the New Year, the Feast of the Holy Family, and Sister Blanche was up at the ambo just starting the second reading from Colossians, Chapter 3. I admired her, the way she kept on reading. She did not blink, pause or skip a beat: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another” (3:12-13).

Father Bernie was shaking his head. Maybe he was taking these words of God directly to heart. Virginia was desperately trying to find her phone. I could see her sitting on the bench behind the ambo. She’d just done such a nice job with the first reading. But now, as she was searching through her pants and jacket pockets, the tune continued.

Sister Blanche proceeded, as calm as can be: “And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts” (3:14-15).

Virginia found her phone at the same moment that Sister Blanche finished reading: “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:17). The sudden silence seemed like a miracle: a gift for which we could all give thanks to God.

I remembered at a previous Mass when Virginia had read from Isaiah, Chapter 6: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘Send me!’” (6:8). The way Virginia read the words “Here I am” had been very heartfelt. She paused briefly and looked up, as if she was responding to God’s call at that very moment, offering her whole self in love and devotion, ready to jump into whatever action would be required of her.

Maybe her cellphone ringing had been God calling her again.

Maybe it was God calling all of us, needing us all to say to him: “Here we are, Lord.”

That’s how the saints responded to the divine call when it came; they were receptive and attentive to God’s presence and holy will. “The humble saints,” Pope Benedict writes in Jesus of Nazareth, “kept their hearts open amid their work and everyday lives, ready to respond to the call of something greater.”

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Kristina M. Santos is a freelance writer from Patterson, Calif. She has had articles published in a number of Catholic and Christian publications, including this one.

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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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