When I met Andrea, it was definitely through Providence. I had been seeking to find a way to do missionary work to capture stories. I did not yet know how the Lord was calling me to do the missionary work. One day, I received a call from a young woman that I had reached out to for information to go to Peru for missionary work. This phone call reminded me of how often we seek to travel great distances to find these stories and do not realize how they are just around the corner or in our own homes and those near to us. We seek to preach in other places and at later times, but may forget that Christ began with the children of Israel “ And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.”[Matthew 15:24]
Andrea’s story about her deep spiritual conversion and enlightening of conscience of the soul, was like a flowing stream of grace. When I came to learn the trial the Lord placed in her path, we were definitely given a sign that Our Lady was with her. I write this now as I receive a message from her, with a smile on her face in a photograph, seeing that miracles are truly around us, even in the darkness we must fear no evil “ For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.”[Psalms 22:4].
My reflection begins with the story of St. Clare. St. Clare came from a world of riches and earthly blessings. Though she had such riches and blessings, she was converted by hearing the Word and acting on it. I’m reminded of a scene from a movie where St. Clare watches St. Francis from the balcony and hears his early struggles and growing love for God. It was St. Francis’ words and love for God that opened St. Clare’s heart to the idea of delivering herself as a bride to Christ. St. Clare’s transformation began with the shedding of her interior life from the earthly. This was symbolized by St. Francis cutting her hair so she may fully be given to Providence and freed from vanity. I find vanity is the desire for validation from the world, while the virtue of humility seeks truth only for the Father’s love.
When I heard Andrea’s journey, I felt as though God was allowing me to see His continuous will to call us to the balcony. Andrea went from living life as a secular singer, to being converted and later using her gifts as a singer to adore God. Now, she is accepting of His will as she discovered she has cancer. Through Andrea’s testimony, I see that God is asking us to slow down so we may hear His Word on the balcony as St. Claire did when she heard St. Francis. God’s word is preached in the struggles and calls us to deliver ourselves in poverty for Love of God so we may depend on Him fully. Trusting that if we listen, He will shed all that is not of His and give us the robe and the ring that like the Father clothed the prodigal son in when his heart was full of contrition. “ And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:”[Luke 15:22]