Embracing the Rejected

Studying theology invigorates the mind and soul but sometimes, unfortunately, it can also distract us from God…or perhaps even hide Him.  January 23 was the feast of St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918), canonized 20 October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. With all the media’s attention on Pope Francis (and rightly so!), it might help to recall one of the saints elevated by our Pope Emeritus.  Amid all the constant scandal and political chatter, St. Marianne’s example gives us a great reason to reflect on God’s love for those whom the world has rejected. From Twitter, January 23:

Community of Grace ‏@communitygrace Today is the Feast of St. Marianne Cope of Hawaii who risked her life to bring Christ to those whom the world abandoned. #saintoftheday  

Exactly. At age 45, St. Marianne took six of her Franciscan sisters from Syracuse, New York, 20140311-212746.jpgto minister to the leper colony isolated on Hawaii’s Molokai Island.  She had worked in a factory to support her younger siblings and then, after joining the Franciscan sisters, founded hospitals welcoming all patients, including alcoholics and single mothers, in Utica and Syracuse.  St. Marianne was no stranger to helping those whom everybody else had rejected.  She lived another twenty-five years working on Molokai, helping St. Damien DeVeuster build a community where previously leprosy patients had lived in abject poverty.

In an age where we obsess over Super Bowl performances, celebrity arrests, and viral videos, St. Marianne’s quiet heroism reminds us of what the Gospel can accomplish…precisely where nobody else is paying attention.  However, Gaudium et Spes, the crowning statement of Vatican II, opened by declaring the Church’s desire to share the Gospel with the world and in so doing embrace the hopes and concerns of all.  Theology students know that. St. Marianne’s life offers a sobering—and inspiring!—commitment to do just that. Of course, it is not easy, but St. Marianne (and Vatican II!) knew that…and embraced the rejected anyway.

Learn more at http://blessedmariannecope.org/index.html

Jeffrey Marlett teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online. Follow his blog, Spiritual Diabetes.

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