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.
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.
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.
Savior of the world,
take my heart
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
that will dip into any water
and bathe any wound
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
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
It’s a beautiful spot, Mike — refreshing to the soul. You may want to check it out next time around!