Today’s find: Cabrini

It’s hard to keep a good woman down—a woman like Frances Xavier Cabrini, whose feast we celebrate today.

I remember being surprised to learn that there was a national shrine to Mother Cabrini—America’s first official saint—just outside of Golden, Colorado. I had heard of her as the patron of immigrants, so I thought a place like New York or Chicago might be more appropriate.

An unlikely spot for a shrine to America's first saint.

An unlikely spot for a shrine to America’s first saint.

But in visiting that Colorado shrine back in 2009, I learned that it would have been hard to tie her accomplishments to any one location. The woman was apparently a marvel of missionary zeal…personally establishing upwards of 50 schools, orphanages, hospitals and social service agencies—not just in the United States, but also in Italy, France, England, Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Nicaragua.

And sure enough, Mother Cabrini had a direct tie to Colorado, too—where she traveled in the early 1900s to minister to a colony of Italian immigrants who worked there in the mines.

Where did she get the energy to accomplish so much good? You find a clue at the top of an otherwise barren and nondescript mountain near Golden, where Mother Cabrini had arranged hundreds of white rocks into the shape of a heart—and in so doing, dedicated her ministry there to the sacred heart of Jesus.

Mother Cabrini's rock sculpture

Mother Cabrini’s rock sculpture

In a sense, it’s fitting that you have to do a little work in order to see Mother Cabrini’s simple rock sculpture. It’s situated at the end of a climb up the Stairway of Prayer …where 373 steps take you on a pilgrimage adorned by plaques recalling the Ten Commandments, the mysteries of the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.

Just as Mother Cabrini drew her strength from Jesus, so too are we reminded—as we make the pilgrimage—join our efforts to the Lord’s.

And as we celebrate the life of Mother Cabrini today, we might want to spend a little extra time at the Sixth Station—Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus. One of my favorite spiritual writers, Caryll Houselander, penned a beautiful reflection along those lines. It’s a good way to meditate on who’s at the heart of every good thing we attempt to do with our lives.

The Sixth Station - Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus - Stairway of Prayer

The Sixth Station – Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus – Stairway of Prayer

 

Savior of the world,

take my heart

which shrinks

from the stark realism

and ugliness of suffering,

and expand it with your love.

 

 

Open it wide

with the fire of your love,

as a rose is opened

by the heat of the sun.

 

Drive me by the strength

of your tenderness

to come close to human pain.

give me hands

that are hardened

by pity,

that will dip into any water

and bathe any wound

in mercy.

 

Give me your hands,

hands that heal the blind

by their touch,

hands that raise the dead

and are nailed to the Cross;

give me your hands

to tend the would of the body

and the wounds of the mind.

 

Give me your eyes

to discern the beauty of your face

hidden under the world’s sorrow;

give me the grace

to be a Veronica,

to wipe away

the ugliness of sin

from the human face,

and to see

your smile on the mouth of pain

your majesty on the face of dereliction,

and, in the bound and helpless,

the power of your infinite love.

 

Lord, take my heart

and give me yours.

 

From The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander

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2 thoughts on “Today’s find: Cabrini

  1. Mike s

    John
    Thanks for sharing have driven by that sign and exit in Colorado many times without stopping. . . which may or may not happen . . . but thanks to you I have gotten a small glimpse
    . . . peace

    Mikes

  2. It’s a beautiful spot, Mike — refreshing to the soul. You may want to check it out next time around!

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