You just never know when you’re about to come face-to-face with a saint.
That notion certainly wasn’t on my radar screen back in September of 2002, when I first visited LaSalle Retreat Center as a guest—and met Brother Marvin Becker FSC.
One thing I noticed right away: He was a hard-working fella. Always on duty, whether in the kitchen or the scullery or tending to the boiler or staffing the front office or keeping LaSalle’s fields and grottos neat and trim.
As I got to know Brother Marvin better in the ensuing years, I developed a deep appreciation for his spirituality, too: How he detected the hand of Providence at work, both in his own life…and in the life of his religious community, the Christian Brothers.
Having spent 30+ years at LaSalle in Glencoe, he’d been an integral part of its heyday as a house of formation; he intimately knew, too, its darkest days—when the property sat mostly vacant, badly in need of repairs and maintenance, and had to scrounge for bookings that might one day give the place new life as a retreat center.
Brother Marvin easily detected God’s presence in both realities. He understood—and lived—the words written by the founder of the Christian Brothers, St. John Baptist de LaSalle: “Providence is the loving care that God takes of his creatures. It is the way God arranges events in our lives for our own good, even if we don’t always see it that way.” So he worked…and worked hard over the past 30 years…to lay the groundwork for the center’s survival. But he also trusted—ever confident that God would provide.
There are tens of thousands of us who’ve come to know LaSalle as ‘holy ground’ during this most recent chapter of its life. We’ve heard Brother Marvin talk about its history…and describe the journey of faith that made the transformation to retreat center possible. We have been blessed, then, in immeasurable ways by all the Christian Brothers who served there…and blessed in particular by this one special man. We’ve been blessed by his energy…his vision…his zeal.
A little over a week ago, Gerri and I had a chance to pray with Brother Marvin one last time in the hospital. I’d brought along my missalette that day…and I thumbed back to those pages today…just to savor some of the words of scripture we’d shared during our joyful visit.
They came from Psalm 37 – but they might as well have come straight from this holy man’s heart:
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Then you will dwell in the land and safely pasture.
Find your delight in the Lord
Who grants your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in him and he will act,
And make your uprightness shine like the light,
The justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Godspeed, Brother Marvin. And know that, for all of us who loved you, the light of your life will forever shine radiantly in our hearts!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.