Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Edward and Charlotte Kunz, St. Louis, 1930's

Romans 8:28

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This passage reminds me of my mom's mom - Grandma Kunz - with my Grandpa Kunz in the photo above. Grandma grew up in the Soulard area of St. Louis. Her father died when she was a baby, and she was fairly poor all her life. I remember her telling me the story of how every year that would go to a fair. She loved watching men and women all dressed up go for a "fancy ride on a big beautiful boat across the lake." One year when she was about twelve she decided she would save money over the next year so she could ride that fancy boat the following year. She worked odd jobs for people and saved every penny she could over the next year. When the day came that they went to the fair the following year, she stood patiently in line with the others. Just as it was her turn to purchase her ticket and board the boat, she was told the boat was full. It was the last ride of the day, and she would have to come back the next day to try again. But her family had to return to St. Louis that evening. She sat on the edge of the lake and cried as she watched the boat sail across the lake. She asked God why He would allow this to happen to her, after all her hard work and daily dreaming of this boat ride. God remained silent.
Then she heard a screams coming from the shore. The boat was far into the lake, but it was very quickly sinking. Grandma told me not many people knew how to swim back then, and she could not swim. Nearly everyone on that boat drowned. Grandma said she knows she would never have survived. She said her relationship with God changed after that - and she thanked God for all the good and bad that came to her the rest of her life, knowing that God alway had her best interest at heart.
Grandma had one of the most beautiful deaths you can imagine. She made her final Confession, received Viaticum, received the Last Rites, closed her eyes, and took her last breath just as a huge smile came across her face.
If Grandma had been on that boat, her death would have not been nearly this peaceful, and my mom and brothers and sisters would never have been born. I believe many similar stories occur every day, many of which we won't realize in this life. It makes me want to read Romans 8:28 again and reminds me to thank God for all I encounter in the gift of this life He is allowing me to live.

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Why a blog? Why St. Paul? Why do I think I have any business doing this?
We are all on a spiritual journey. We all want that journey to lead us to heaven, to eternity with God. For this journey, we need one another.
The journey so far has led me to read and learn about so many forms of authentic Catholic spirituality - Ignatian, Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, etc. My biggest problem was that I came to love each one tremendously. I began reading more and more, spending more and more time at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore on Watson Road here in St. Louis. Who would have thought my greatest conversion story would take place in a bookstore? Mine was not quite as sudden or dramatic as St. Paul on the road to Damascus, but getting to know the Daughters of St. Paul affected me no less significantly.
The sisters are Eucharistic by nature. The first time I entered the chapel in their bookstore, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and one of the sisters was on her knees, gazing at Christ, with an indescribably beautiful smile on her face. I had a glimpse of heaven. I knelt at one of the other kneelers and noticed on the wall behind the monstrance the words: "Fear not, I am with you. From here I want to enlighten. Atone for sin." I had that brief moment of absolute certainty that I was on the right path.
Over the last several years I have worked my way through as many books, CD's, DVD's and conversations with the Daughters of St. Paul that time has allowed. Time is at such a premium for all of us. Years ago we were told that with advances in technology we would have much more free time on our hands. We all know this has not been the case. Our lives are busier and more hectic than ever. Even if we are unable to find time to read good books, see enlightening movies or attend lectures and discussions, maybe we could all spend a little time on the internet supporting one another on our faith journeys. Many of you know more about many aspects of Catholic spirituality than I do.
Pope John Paul the Great called us all to a New Evangelization, to share the Gospel with the world. I am hoping we can all be St. Paul in this blog space by sharing Christ with one another and with others. St. Paul travelled to many foreign and often hostile regions to evangelize the world; we are fortunate to be able to use the internet to reach even farther and more quickly.
The idea of using today's means of social communication to spread the Gospel was given to Blessed James Alberione on the night between the centuries (December 31, 1900 - January 1, 1901). He was a 16 year-old seminary student adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament when a special light came to him from the Host. Following this, Blessed James Alberione became the founder of the Society of St. Paul priests, the Daughters of St. Paul, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Sisters of the Queen of Apostles, and numerous institutes that are also part of the Pauline family.
So what is Pauline spirituality? In my experience, Pauline spirituality encompasses all the teachings of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and love of all the other spiritualities and Saints of the Church. It is the members of the Pauline family who are the happiest people I know! It is loving God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with all our hearts and souls, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and St. Paul.
So why St. Paul? I can relate to St. Paul. We first meet him in the New Testament as a sinner. He has a thorn in his side that God decides is best not to take away. I sometimes wish I knew what that thorn was, but it's probably better I don't know. I like to pretend it is one of my many weaknesses or faults. If St. Paul could go from persecuting Christ and His Church to becoming the person responsible for spreading the Gospel and establishing the Church in foreign lands, the least I can do is start a blog. I have been especially inspired by my two favorite bloggers, Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp, and a Pauline Cooperator named Rae Stabosz. I believe Sr. Margaret and Rae are doing just what St. Paul and Blessed James Alberione would be doing with the internet.
In future blogs (which will be shorter than this first post!), I would like to share writings of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione, and many others. I look forward to others sharing writings from other Catholic spiritualities and writers. An especially Pauline way of sharing is to point out to one another what aspects particularly speak to each of us.
Another Pauline trait is to pray for one another. My prayer is that we support one another on our path to holiness. Our goal is to glorify God in all that we do - so let's do it!