Memorial of Saint Peter Claver – September 9th
Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Peter Claver. Claver was a Jesuit who for forty years ministered to the slaves who would come into the Colombian city of Cartagena. It’s estimated that he personally baptized some 300,000 slaves who passed through what was then Spain’s most important slave port.
There’s a lot that can be said about Saint Peter Claver, but there’s just one thing I wanted to point out: his friendship with Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a Jesuit lay brother who worked as a porter at the College of Majorca, where Claver would study. When Claver first arrived at the College, he greeted his superiors, and then headed off to find Rodriguez, whose reputation for holiness had already spread far and wide. Although Rodriguez was in his seventies, the two became fast friends, and, with the permission of their superiors, they would spend time each day talking about the things of God. The two of them grew in holiness together to such an extent that, despite the difference in their ages, their life histories (Rodriguez had been married), and offices (one was to be a priest, the other a lay brother), the two were canonized together in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII. If we look further, we find that saints are seldom alone: usually we find them in groups, like Saint Joseph Cafasso, who was Saint John Bosco’s spiritual director, who in turn worked with Saint Maria Mazzarello and Blessed Michael Rua, among others. Or, Saint Philip Neri, who was the spiritual director for Saint Camillus de Lellis, worked with Servant of God Caesar Baronius, and many others.
This is part of the beauty of religious life: people from very different backgrounds come together and work to become saints. Each offers the other what they need. Sometimes takes the form of a word of encouragement, sometimes real help, consolation, but sometimes, probably most of the time, it’s just the daily living together and the opportunity to practice virtues, the opportunity to grow in humility and in charity with people who we might not have chosen to live with otherwise. Yet, God in His mercy calls us all to work together for that purpose: to become saints, here, in this religious family, and with these people.
Today we can take some time to examine ourselves to see how well we are living the Beatitudes, and how good of an example we are to those around us. Through the intercession of Our Lady, and Saint Peter Claver, let us ask for the grace to live out the Beatitudes and grow in holiness with those around us.