Oct 31st - Alonso Rodriguez
Often in the rush to the next thing we forget about the present moment. In the light of All Hallow's Eve we decorate and prepare costumes and purchase the treats we look forward to - and we forget about the day that takes place before the eve's vigil.
There are many saints whose feast falls today and they should not go unnoticed, one of the most recent being María Isabel Salvat Romero.
So today I focus on the little things, the things in between all of the big things.
It is the little things, the everyday things that shape our lives. Little goods, little bads - they all add up.
Alonso's life held many twists and turns and we might say that he had a full life by the time he died: student, businessman, husband, father, widower, religious - a pretty full plate. He also lost his father, which caused him to leave his studies to take up the family business; he lost his mother, his wife, two of his three children, which caused him to leave the life he knew to move in with his sisters to help raise his son; but he learn meditation and prayer and patience which, on the death of his last child, led him to consider the religious life. He wanted to be a Jesuit, but his lack of education kept him from ordination and when he tried it did not finish. Only his piety allowed him to become a lay-brother.
There he took on the duties of porter, a job of many menial daily tasks: holding the door open, delivering the letters and packages that came to the college door, distributing alms to the needy who knocked there. At the same time he shared a room with Peter Claver and in his daily discussions advised him to his missionary journey to the Americas.
There are many things this saint did everyday to lift us up and many are gathered into a Spiritual Works volume. In the shadow of the Saints he became one himself.
Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Laybrother of the Society of Jesus
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