Radiant Faith

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“Those who look to Him are radiant…” -Psalm 34:5

This is one of my favorite little Psalms. It reminds me that if I’m letting God in with all my heart, I should radiate every fruit of the Holy Spirit to everyone around me.

One of the daily meditations in the Magnificat recently was an excerpt from the diary of Elisabeth Leseur, a married laywoman who lived at the end of the 19th century in France. Leseur’s cause for canonization is underway. She was married to an atheist and suffered much during her life from his antagonism of her faith. Her husband read her diary after her death from breast cancer, however, and converted to Catholicism, eventually becoming a priest.

I was struck by how this passage from her diary expands on the idea of radiating one’s faith–especially to one’s husband and family.

The Gift of Self.  Not only in fulfilling my responsibilities to everyone, not only in charitable work, not only in prayer, but in my whole attitude and way of life. Great and holy ideas and deep convictions often influence others only through the attractiveness of those who embody them. “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:16), our Savior said–by the fruits of devotion, charity, and radiant faith, and also by those blossoms that first attract notice and precede the fruit; those are called tender love, graciousness…serenity, equanimity, friendliness, joy and simplicity. A truly holy person–mistress, by divine grace, of her body and its challenges–without ever speaking, exudes the delicate perfume of these flowers. Such a person attracts others by her gentle influence and prepares them for God’s approach, which she eventually obtains for them through her prayers.”

So often I wish I had the right words all the time in conversations with my husband. The right words to encourage, to challenge, to uplift. But in the end maybe it is my behavior all of the time I’m not talking to Michael that is most important in helping my husband get to heaven. It’s those “blossoms that first attract notice and precede the fruit…tender love, graciousness…serenity, equanimity, friendliness, joy and simplicity.”

I could use some work on all of these “blossoms” though.

The very nature of marriage and motherhood makes it a huge challenge (maybe just for me?) to maintain anything close to consistent “tender love,” “equanimity,” or (I’m laughing as I type this) simplicity every moment of every ordinary day.

But giving myself up to hopeless spiritual mediocrity also isn’t an option.

Which is why I like the part in the meditation where Leseur points out that “a truly holy person” is “mistress, by divine grace, of her body and its challenges.”

Reminding myself that I am created for more than mediocrity, and then praying for the grace of God to live that out–that’s my strategy.

Copyright 2011 Erin Franco

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