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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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Benedict Joseph Labre: Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. 
<p>He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." </p><p>On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. </p><p>He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.</p> American Catholic Blog Today offers limitless possibilities for holiness. Lean into His grace. The only thing keeping us from sainthood is ourselves.

 
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