Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chiara Luce Badano: A Light That Helps Me Trust in God's Love

My On This Day Facebook flashback page has been reminding me all week of my first "encounter," five years ago, with the amazing Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (1971-1990). This beautiful 18 year old girl died from a long and painful struggle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer), all of which she offered in union with Jesus in His cry of abandonment on the cross.

Though she was beatified in 2010, I had never heard of her before March 12, 2012 when--while fiddling around on the internet--I happened upon an article or web page or something about her that led me to more resources in English and Italian. It's funny, because there was no particularly discernible "reason" why all this should happen on March 12, 2012 as her feast is in October. It was just a circumstance of a moment in time, but it had a profound impact on my life. 

On that day (and the ones that followed) I not only read her inspiring story but also heard her recorded voice and saw this picture and others. I "met" her, in a sense, "through" a multimedia experience on the internet, but of course it was the grace of Jesus living in the Church and in Chiara Luce's witness that touched my heart and initiated something vital and enduring. 

The Communion of Saints is a very real dimension of our Christian lives, and five years ago this week was the beginning of a friendship with this tremendous soul who continues to be a real help to me. She intercedes for me and for our family, but she also "listens" to me and (I really think) guides me in discrete ways to remember the love of Jesus and to notice things I might otherwise ignore. She taps me gently on the shoulder and says, "Look. Look there."

She is, indeed, a "chiara luce," a clear light which shows a glimpse of the extraordinary reality of God's love in the ordinary circumstances of life and in "ordinary people." 

At the center of herself, however, she burns so bright that it leaves me blinded in the luminous night which is the experience of the reality of our faith. The depths of her suffering and love (such as she expresses in the quotation above) completely blow me away: The love Christ has for us and that He empowers us to offer back to Him and, with Him, to the world is something entirely beyond my understanding, my calculations, my measure. I am just a small man with a small mind--indeed I am a crude, narrow, stingy old sinner--but Jesus still surprises me again and again with His mercy, which is my hope. 

Thanks, Chiara Luce! You are a great friend to me. 😊