“If it hadn’t been for Fr. Benedict, I don’t know where I’d be.” These words, spoken by a young man who had lived at the St Francis House for boys founded by Fr. Benedict in the 60’s, have been echoed by the sentiments of countless others during these days of prayer and rememberance. As Fr. Andrew preached at yesterday’s funeral, “No Fr. Benedict, no CFR’s!” and so without Fr. Benedict, I don’t know where I would be!
We CFR’s have been powerfully reminded (and perhaps educated) this week that Fr. Benedict’s untiring and faithful “yes” to God for over 60 years has been a source of tremendous grace for thousands, if not millions of people; bishop’s; priests; families in poverty; religious sisters; boys from Children’s Village; viewers of EWTN; readers of his 43 books; homeless men; women in crisis pregnancy and who knows how many more…? And who knows what the ripple effect of God’s grace has been through the lives of those touched by Fr. Benedict? Only God. And that’s how Fr. Benedict would like it.
So often the news is disturbing and frightening. War, terrorism, disease, moral confusion. There is a great deal of fear in our culture. People feel helpless and hopeless in the face of everything and so do nothing. But that wasn’t Fr. Benedict’s style! He was a man of faith and hope, impelled by the love of Christ and so he had to do something. And he did a lot!
But what is our response? What is my response? It must be the same response uttered by Fr. Benedict when he was 17 years old, as he left home to follow Jesus and join the Capuchins. It must be the same response that then led him (some 30 years later) as he left the Capuchins (his home) to follow Jesus and begin the CFR’s. The same response he uttered, not without struggle and suffering, for over 60 years. We can almost hear him say it in his unmistakable quiet voice, “Yes Lord.”
Just the other day I read this quote from St. John Paul II and thought of Fr. Benedict:
“The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in works as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world” (Vita Consecrata).
Fr. Benedict wasn’t perfect and nor are any of us. I’m not called to be Fr. Benedict and nor are you but his powerful “yes” challenges each of us, in our frail humanity, to offer our lives to God wherever we are, with the same passion and generosity. Fr. Benedict’s life made visible the marvels of God and you know what? So can we!! And that’s what amazes the world - the ripple effect of grace!
+ Fr. Emmanuel Mary Mansford, CFR
We need your help! Donate here.