“It is the personal element that brings true charity into life”. Mary Virginia Merrick
Each Easter season, I try and think about how I can change for the better. What can I do to be a better me? I question if I’m doing enough with my God given talents and blessings. I try and pray a bit more, asking for God to help me discern where my time and efforts would be best spent. But this Easter season, was a bit different. I was looking through some vacation photos from a trip to France in 2013 and I came upon a picture of a Saint Anthony statute. Now this was no ordinary statue…We had just attended mass in French at Notre Dame, and I was thinking that I really couldn’t count that as going, as I didn’t understand a word…As I was trying to figure out what God would mark down on my attendance card, I looked up and saw a statue of St. Anthony. At first I thought it was a regular, run of the mill statue, until I noticed that it was staring at me. I stared back and was really mesmerized for a minute or so. It was a feeling that I can’t really explain, but I’m guessing that many of you have felt the same at one time or another. At that point I began to wonder what it meant. Was St. Anthony giving me some kind of sign? Was he telling me that I was supposed to do something? Was he suggesting that my life take a new direction? All kinds of thoughts rattled through my brain. I waited a bit, hoping for a revelation, but, just my luck, none came. I went on with my tour and vacation…at every church we visited, I sought out the St. Anthony statue to try and get back that connection. Looking back, I must have appeared a bit loony staring deeply into the eyes of the various statues.
Throughout my vacation and continuing upon my return, I tried to decipher the “St. Anthony stare”. I kept telling myself that it was a sign, and not in the small sign sense. No, this sign had to be something really big – it happened in Notre Dame, of all places! Maybe I was meant to change the world…but how? I thought my life was going quite nicely, but maybe I wasn’t pushing myself enough. Maybe I was supposed to sell all my belongings and join Mother Teresa’s group and, although I really didn’t want to leave my family and especially my dog, I really did want to, at least, listen to what was asked of me…
Well, everyday life took over and I didn’t think much more of my encounter with Saint Anthony after those initial thoughts. But seeing the picture brought back all of those questions. I could still see Saint Anthony staring at me. It appeared that he was still waiting for me to do something remarkable. The pressure returned. And then it finally hit me. I wasn’t being asked to save the world. I just don’t have it in me to sacrifice everything. I can only do my small part. And the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that doing small acts of charity and kindness is just as important as setting out to parts unknown. And that is the essence of our wonderful Christ Child organization. If the Christ Child Society can bring a smile to a beautiful young face or ease a parent’s burden, we have all done our part.
So, St. Anthony, once again, was just telling me that I needed to step up my game just a bit. And, of course, you all know what that means. If I am to step it up, I’m taking you along. I ask each and every one of you to review and re-evaluate your participation in Christ Child during this Easter season. Are you contributing to the best of your ability? Is there more that you can give, both in monetary and hands on support? Perhaps you too, can dig a bit deeper for this wonderful organization. I have no doubt that St. Anthony will help us all along the way.