I have been thinking about my sister Christine today. In the pre-Paul VI calendar, today was the feast of Saint Christina (1150-1224), a medieval miracle-worker known as Christina Mirabilis (Christina the Astonishing). No longer honored in the universal Roman calendar, she of course keeps her place on this date in the Roman Martyrology. So today still is – or would be if she were still with us – my sister Christine’s onomastico, i.e., her “name day.”
At her funeral Mass that October Saturday some 5 years ago, I began my homily by quoting a condolence email from a high school classmate, recalling how he remembered her as a baby. “I remember your lovely mother carrying Christine, and Christine as a precious infant.”
I too still remember what joy her birth brought to our family in that summer of 1963! My sister Christine had what must have felt like a difficult and frustrating life – punctuated, however, by genuine joy and by real love and affection, both given and received. She had a kind and gentle heart, and so made many friends. We all want many things in life – sometimes perhaps too many things and not necessarily always the best or most important things. But surely we all want to love and to be loved. Christine may not have gotten a lot of those other things that she may have once hoped for in life – and that I and others would have wanted her to have. But she did love and was loved.
Somehow, I think we all need to learn to do a better job of acknowledging the dignity and respect rightly owed to each other and to every single child of God – regardless of worldly success.
In one of his letters, Saint Braulio of Zaragoza (590–651) wrote that God’s “power is so great that it is easier for him to raise the dead than it is for us to arouse those who are sleeping.” Ultimately, living the Christian life, the life of a disciple, has to be rooted in the experience of hope in spite of sadness, and the realization that God’s power for our good is so much greater that any or all of the obstacles that we may put in his way.