Extreme. Passionate. Miraculous. All of these describe the 16th century Peruvian saint, Martin de Porres, whose feast we celebrate today, November 3rd. St. Martin patiently endured racism and hatred, offering it up as a sacrifice. He wore one monastic robe until it literally disintegrated. He was known to levitate, bi-locate, and to be enveloped in a Heavenly light when in prayer. He had the gift of knowledge and was visited by Mary and many saints and angels. This man gave himself completely to God and, in turn, was filled so with God’s grace, he was able to pursue Heaven with a love and passion few of us have ever glimpsed.
While it’s exciting to know that God has such amazing gifts to give and has created such a saint, we should not lose focus on what truly made St. Martin a saint. The miracles and extreme virtues were gifts that came from his holiness and from living in a deep state of grace. What made him a saint was simple every day work and prayer.
Martin’s early life was tragic and all too ordinary. Abandoned by his father, raised by a single mother, rejected by society for being mixed-race and fatherless, Martin knew poverty intimately. The young man found his calling in caring for the sick and rescuing poor orphans from the street. After joining the Dominicans, Martin continued his road to sainthood by putting others first, personally caring for the sick every day, and faithfully committing to his prayer-life.
What a simple and beautiful formula for holiness! Follow your vocation and do your work as well as you can. Pray each day. Put others first. It is simple, but challenging.
Very often St. Martin is pictured with a broom, dog and mice. The story of St. Martin and mice epitomizes Martin’s merciful love, humility, daily work and the way the miraculous found its way into his simple, hardworking life:
One day, it was discovered that mice had overtaken the monastery wardrobe room and were destroying all the best linens and clothing. The general consensus was that the rodents should be poisoned, but Martin interceded. After catching one of the critters, he gently discussed the situation, explained that the sick needed the linens and offered a new home where a daily meal would be provided. The mice all followed Martin outdoors to the corner of the garden and he faithfully fed them each day from that point on.
I, unfortunately, riddled with selfishness and first-world mentality, identify more with the mice, than our holy St. Martin. Like a hungry animal, it is easy to consume all available to us with little thought for the poor, sick and needy. In contrast, Martin continually pinched the monastery budget to find supplies and funds for the needs of the sick.
The holy saints don’t give up on us. They lead us away from sin and they will faithfully sustain us with their prayers. I am far from becoming a great saint like Martin, and am not always as obedient as the mice. Our Lord, Our Lady, and the holy saints and angels do not write us off, but continuously pursue our souls for Heaven.
St. Martin, lead us to a place where we can better serve the Kingdom of God. We trust that, with your prayers, we will receive the daily bread we need.
Copyright 2016 Kate Daneluk