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Monday 20 April 2015

On Gifts Three, with a bit of humor...

My images for the understanding of gifts are four saints. Bear with me as I examine their lives to show the difference in "gifting".

The first is Blessed Margaret of Castello, probably the ugliest, and most unlikely of women ever to be called blessed.

This woman was born a dwarf, blind, deformed, hunchbacked and lame. Her "noble" parents disowned her to the point of abandoning her in a church when God did not answer their prayers for a healing. Before that, she had been virtually imprisoned and kept out of sight. She was, therefore, psychologically abused.

But, Margaret was given the gifts of heroic charity, forgiving her horrid parents, and remaining cheerful. She was also given a great intellect, plus infused knowledge, and could even tutor children and teach adults, despite her great infirmities. She could discern demons, and healed those who were sick.

She was homeless, and had to be passed from house to house in the community which finally adopted her. She was never bitter. Her beauty was interior, and God gave her the gift of dying at the age Jesus did, plus being an incorruptible, just to prove to us that God's chosen ones are His choice, not ours.

She would have not been able to take a gifting course as she was too poor to pay the fees, blind, and deaf.

The second is one of my personal patrons, St. Joseph Cupertino. Born into poverty with a harsh mother and an alcoholic father, he was "retarded" or what we call today, "mentally challenged". Yet, God gave him extraordinary gifts of knowledge and wisdom, as well as visions. His love for Mary is well-known. His amazing gifts included levitation. His gifts were highly personal, but also for the upbuilding of his own community.

St. Joseph Cupertino would not have been able to take the "gifted and talented" courses, as his intellect was too low.

The third is my favorite saint of all men, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most talented and charismatically gifted men to ever walk this earth. Not only was he handsome, but he was noble, highly intelligent, a real intellectual with great gifts of meditation, contemplation, counsel, writing, preaching, and leadership. He is rare among saints for the number and quality of his gifts. His love for his monks shines through his works. His love for Mary is found in his prayers and meditations. His great love for Christ, as seen in his sermons on the Song of Songs, cannot be matched among male saints,except for the assumption of the love of SS. John the Baptist and Joseph.

He would have refused the gift courses, exorcised the presenters, then given them all a course on humility.

The fourth is Mary of Egypt, a prostitute and most likely a nymphomaniac from the age of twelve, who underwent a complete conversion at the age of seventeen. She was told by God to cross the Jordan after going to confession and the Eucharist, living a life of complete denial of self in the desert. St. Zosima was led to her and gave her Communion the day of the night she died, coming back to bury her with the help of a lion.

She would have been refused the gifting course, for sure, as she would have smelled bad, been stark naked, and refused to leave the desert.

Gifting and talented classes are part a narcissistic trend in middle-class spirituality. I hope these courses fade away and people return to common sense and humility. Once one is praying and reflecting, living in grace, God reveals His gifts. Hopefully before one is an adult, one has a sense of one's talents as well as one's gifts. One does not have to pay for such knowledge. For those who pray, God gives self-knowledge.