Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blessed Chiara Badano: My "Spiritual Kid Sister"

I probably talk to Chiara Luce Badano more than any other saint (except for Mary). I ask her to pray for a lot of things. I don't think I've asked for a miracle; I pray for many concerns (my own and those of others) where her intercession remains hidden, although I believe that she does intercede and that she is great and deeply inserted within the heart of Jesus.

There are some saints that I listen to, primarily -- which is not to say that I "hear voices," but rather that I learn from their teachings and the counsel they gave during their lives. Augustine, Benedict, and Bernard; Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure; Ignatius, Francis De Sales, Therese, Padre Pio, Edith Stein, Mother Teresa, John Paul II (although I talk to him a lot too).

Chiara Luce is like a kid sister (she would be 42 years old if she were alive today).

It seems easy to talk to Chiara Luce from within myself. She's a simple heart. She left no treatises and not many words, although the few we have are precious. But I want to ask her to pray for me and my children and our family; to pray for "young people," certainly (that's her special assignment), but also for all the suffering people I know -- especially people who have cancer with all of their grueling struggles. She's been through all that, and not long ago. She's also close to shut-ins and people with chronic pain; people whose lives are derailed by illness (young, middle aged or old).

I think she has a special understanding and a special compassion for those (like me) who suffer from mental illness. When she was in the hospital, she gave her time and her companionship to another woman suffering from depression (even though Chiara herself was in great pain and in need of rest). When she was younger, she once told her mother not to speak harshly about the drug addicts. "They are the lepers of our time," she said.

There's another reason why I am moved to open my soul to her. She was known in life to be an exceptionally good listener. She gave time to her friends, listened to their problems and doubts, and took things into her heart. She once said that she didn't speak much to people about Jesus, but just tried to be a living witness and instrument of His love.

Chiara Luce never condemns me. She is never harsh.

Yet the witness of her life scares me out of my wits. (And she knows that too.) Her life makes it so clear that this "Jesus" thing is really real; its not a mind game. It means tossing it all up and following Him wherever He leads me. Scared? I don't think I even understand what it means to surrender everything, to become His Love, with no regard for my own interest. I feel overwhelmed. I can't get it inside my head.

Not to mention the fact that I'm just so plain old fashioned selfish.
The Lord is teaching me through life and suffering, mercifully and with great patience. And Chiara Luce will stay with me and listen to me and be my friend along the way. I don't deserve the attention of so great a heart.

And I bring her the needs and intentions that people ask me to pray for. O yeah. Because she's the real deal. You should ask her to intercede for you, in bearing pain and suffering, and to grow in the love of God.

Ask her to pray for you. And expect miracles.

This is an unofficial (i.e. non-liturgical) English translation of the Collect for her feast day. My hope is that God's grace will indeed "transform deeply my soul" -- beginning with an attraction to this light of love, a desire to live with this serene trust.

Father of infinite goodness,
who through the merits of your Son
and the gift of the Spirit
have set alight with love Blessed Chiara Badano,
transform deeply our soul
so that, following her example,
we too become capable
of always doing Your holy will
with serene trust.
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever,