Today (everywhere except the US) is the memorial of St. Andre Bessette - who brings to mind....Blessed Solanus Casey.
For that is what Solanus Casey was - a porter, or doorkeeper, the same role held by St. Andre Bessette up in Montreal. They were the first people those in need would encounter as they approached the shrine or chapel.
And it was not as if Solanus Casey set out with the goal of being porter, either. His path to the Franciscans and then to the priesthood was long and painful and in some ways disappointing. He struggled academically and he struggled to fit in and be accepted, as one of Irish descent in a German-dominated church culture. He was finally ordained, but as a simplex priest - he could say Mass, but he could not preach or hear confessions - the idea being that his academic weaknesses indicated he did not have the theological understanding deemed necessary for those roles.
But God used him anyway. He couldn't preach from a pulpit, but his faithful presence at the door preached of the presence of God. He couldn't hear confessions, but as porter, he heard plenty poured from suffering hearts, and through his prayers during his life and after his death, was a conduit for the healing grace of God.
This is why the stories of the saints are such a helpful and even necessary antidote to the way we tend to think and talk about vocation these days, yes, even in the context of church. We give lip service to being called and serving, but how much of our language still reflects an assumption that it's all, in the end, about our desires and our plans? We are convinced that our time on earth is best spent discovering our gifts and talents, nurturing our gifts and talents, using our gifts and talents in awesome ways that we plan for and that will be incredible and amazing and world-changing. And we'll be happy and fulfilled and make a nice living at it, too.
I don't know about you, but I need people like Solanus Casey to surround me and remind me what discipleship is really about.
He's in the Loyola Kids Book of Heroes. by Amy Welborn Here's the first page.