Porta fidei 1. beginning
1. The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.
The life of St. Catherine Laboure is a life entirely given to God. She receives every moment from God. Here are some episodes from her life that show its strong relationship with God.
From childhood, she trusted God and remained faithful to him. She knew the death of her mother when she was very young and she was confided to the care of her aunt. She was far from her father for two years. On her return, when she was barely 12 years old, she helped in the work of the farm and became mistress of the household. The task is tough. It is FAITH which gives Catherine support in her responsibilities and gives her the courage to assume the management of the farm. She prays daily in the church in Fain, where there is no Blessed Sacrament since the Revolution. She regularly walks the 2km to participate in the Eucharist. Her life is lived in the presence of God which gives meaning to all her actions, despite what some of her neighbors say about prayer being a waste of time.
After her initial formation as a Daughter of Charity, Catherine was sent in 1831 to a deprived suburb southeast of Paris to serve the elderly in the hospice at rue Picpus in Reuilly. She was available for all the needed services: kitchen, laundry, management of the farm. Her primary role was to be with the aged men.
“Catherine was good even with the most disagreeable of them, just as if they had the right to special attention…She saw them as they were: wounded creatures crying for help and knocking themselves against walls and against people – like children who need courage and self-esteem restoring to them.” Fr. René Laurentin Laurentin, Life of Catherine Labouré, p. 114.
It is in Faith and by love for the poorest that Catherine endured all difficulties, misunderstandings and frustrations, be they in community or from the people she served. In each one she saw the face of God and loved the person as they were.
Porta fidei 14. Paragraph 2
Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
For more on the life of Catherine Labouré: