Little Saints of the Poor

I’m always crabby when I go to Sunday Mass.  If I were the perfect Catholic, this would not be the case.  But I am not the perfect Catholic.

For one thing, I don’t like doing anything on Sundays.  For another, the homilies are always insipid and the music makes me want to throw things and hurt people.  “You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat” – just typing those words has made me see red and froth at the mouth.  Now I can’t get that terrible tune out of my head!

I’ve tried the Latin Mass, and at least the music is not awful at the Latin Mass.  My wife doesn’t like the Latin Mass, so two Sundays ago, when she was out of town, I went to a Latin Mass parish without her.  I noticed the guy five rows ahead of me was “packin'”.  He had a pistol at his side, in a holster – two sons and a handgun.  I did not notice, when I walked into this church anything like this … 



… so I assume it was OK to be “totin’ some heat” at Sunday Mass.  I suppose if there had been any Liturgical Abuse … this guy was prepared!  

Anyway, last Sunday I went to our dreadful little parish church up the road, the one that was designed to look like a shopping mall, only a lot less beautiful.  After the mushy and gooey “music minister” assured me that all were welcome in this place and that I would be raised up on eagle’s wings and before he told me to taste and see, someone stepped to the pulpit after the homily.

St. Jeanne Jugan

It was one of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

I love these women.  We toured around with our show Little Saint of the Poor, about their foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan, and performed at over 20 Little Sisters homes across North America.  This is the most amazing group of women on the face of the earth.  Most of them are older than the seniors they care for.  One of them goes out begging every day, at every home, so that they can purchase the food the residents of their homes eat.  They have stood up to the Federal government, who are trying to force them to pay, indirectly, for contraceptives for their employees.  They are amazing.

The Little Sister at our parish spoke.  This is, more or less, what she said …

I’ll tell you a little bit of my vocations story.  I had everything, but I wasn’t happy.  There was a hole, a hole that I couldn’t fill, a hole in my life, in my chest.  I had cars, a nice job, everything in life – but I was single, I was lonely.  I prayed to God – finally.  I said, “God, please send me the perfect husband.”  Well, you have to be careful what you pray for!  Within twelve months, I gave up everything and became a nun – a Little Sister of the Poor.  And He said, “Guess what?  You’ve got the perfect husband!  It’s Me!”

We take in the elderly poor.  We care for them.  We know they all have holes in their lives like I did – family divisions, loneliness, despair.  We don’t care if they’re Christian or atheist, Muslim or Buddhist.  We take them in and we show them love.  We fill that hole.  They become part of our family.  We give them what they need, and some of them realize that and they’re very grateful.  We don’t just give them care, we love them.

And then, when the Lord calls them – when they’re dying – we stay by them.  We pray with them, we sing, we talk to them.  We make sure they don’t die alone.  This is the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  This is what Jeanne Jugan did, and this is what we continue to do today.


And I left Mass actually feeling good.

This is what we’re called to do – all of us.  Answer the loneliness of others.  Give them a share of our hope.  Make them part of our family.  

This is what we are all called to do. 

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O'Brien is the founder and artistic director of the Theater of the Word Incorporated, which tours the world evangelizing through drama. He and his actors appear on several EWTN television programs, with video clips featured on O'Brien's website, www.stgenesius.net. Kevin teaches many online classes for Homeschool Connections and writes a regular column for the St. Austin Review. His autobiography, A Bad Actor's Guide to the Meaning of Life, will be published soon by ACS Press.

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