This weekend, Blessed Edith Stein will be canonized a saint by Pope John
Paul II. This is a momentous occasion for all of us; it is an occasion to which we
should pay close attention. The Roman Catholic Church may not call us to
canonization. However, that does not mean we are not called to be a
saint-for we are, each one of us.
Edith Stein's life has been examined minutely by the Holy See. The
prescribed miracles have been worked through her intercession to the
satisfaction of a rigorous panel within the Curia. We see the tale end of
her life, as a Carmelite Nun, who was sent to the gas chamber along with
many other Jewish women, for she was born a Jew. We see the maturity of
her faith culminated in the acceptance of her death, in the fulfillment of
her commitment to Jesus Christ by dying, not so much for being a Jew (even
if the Nazis thought that), but for having converted to Catholicism, by
radically changing her life, and touching the lives of so many around her.
And that conversion did not begin in the death camp; it began long before
when Edith, intellectual and educated, had to choose between the paradox of
religious belief versus the materialistic society of her time - the time of
post World War I and the hatefulness of World War II. We see the life of
Edith Stein in its completion, now glorified for the honor and glory of God
by canonization. Edith Stein's life was one of suffering, and she learned
how to make a beautiful symphony from that suffering. Now, we here on
earth see the perfection of that melody, and wonder how we're ever going to
achieve such a thing in our own poor lives.
Pondering on this, last Sunday I watched, along with my husband, a program
aired on ABC's "20/20" about Audrey Santo, the girl/child lying in a
coma-like state in Massachusetts, to whom miraculous events have been
Before I go any further, I want to say that the Church has made no
official ruling on this matter, but has placed it under formal
investigation, which is still moving forward, so the final decision rests
with the Church. However, from what I saw, from what my soul heard and
saw, I personally am convinced that the story shown on this program focused
not on one, but on two saints of our own time.
The first, of course, is Audrey, who at the tender age of three fell into
the swimming pool and drowned. She has been in a coma ever since, and the
medical professionals long-ago told Audrey's mother to pull the plug.
The child may or may not be conscious of what goes on around her. That's
not the point. That she is an innocent child, having committed no actual
sin in her life, having still the purity of her baptism upon her soul, God
has chosen to work through her to heal so many others who come in faith to
seek their God.
But the other saint, the one that most overlook, is Audrey's mother. If
you happened to see the show, then perhaps you caught that, too. If not,
it would be difficult to put into words here what was said (or perhaps not
said) about Linda Santo, the untiring mother of such great faith who has
worked all of these years to tend her daughter, with prayer always on her lips.
As I watched the program I saw two very similar saints, and both had
patience of a heroic nature - Linda who cares round the clock for her
daughter, and the daughter who lies in a coma-like state, unable to move,
to eat, or anything else…yet she is not dead. She is being held in God's
hands, and He uses her, and no one, no doctor on earth, knows how much that
little child suffers for the sake of His Sorrowful Passion.
On the other hand, Linda Santo is a living example of the Beatitudes, the
Great Commandment, of the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ. She embodies
heroic virtues that go beyond mere words to describe, and she does so with
kindness, gentleness, and with faith so strong that no one has been able to
knock it down in all the years of suffering she has endured. The symphony
of suffering in the Santo household is unique in many ways for God has
chosen to pinpoint this household as an example of the exquisite charity we
must all have for one another, the absolute respect for life we must
possess, and the undying faith in Him that is paramount in our salvation.
Is it any wonder, then, that the walls themselves weep oil? Is it any
wonder that statues and pictures weep oil, that there are tears of oil, of
water and of blood that seep, unexplained by any scientific method, from
the same statues, crosses, and icons?
Does it matter that the doubters and detractors are still looking for a
way to prove the entire scenario is fraudulent? God will win out in the
end, but in the meantime, the symphony that the Santo household offers up
to God each day is an example for all of us.
As mothers, we should see in the example of Linda Santo a model of the
same motherhood that the Blessed Virgin Mary was to Jesus and is to us this day. For fathers,
we must look at the repentant father who returned to face the state his
daughter is in, and might well remain in for years to come, to the fact
that God has chosen to use little Audrey to bring His healing graces to
many others. The normal life that any family seeks does not exist for the
Santo family. Does normalcy exist in any family today? Are we not all,
in some manner, diseased by the misuse of technology, the presence of
illness of varying degrees, and the corruptness of the society in which we
Look at the life of the Santo family. There lies Audrey, day after day,
coma-like, yet a true instrument that has brought her sanctity, and has
brought sanctity to her own family. It is not a question for us to
determine whose suffering is the greater-Audrey's or that of her family.
That is up to God. What we should look at, if we wish our own daily
symphony of suffering to have dignity and beauty before the Throne of God
is the manner in which each accepts the cross, the manner in which each
responds to the grace God gives to keep moving forward in faith, hope,
trust and love.
These essential ingredients are the core of the life of our soul. If we
neglect them, if we discard them preferring the materialistic society in
which we live, then we are in our own coma, but unlike little Audrey, our
coma is a deadly one, for it brings on the death of the soul.
Let us, in the coming week, take our eyes off ourselves, and place them
upon God, where they belong. Then, through prayer, let us examine our own
lives, and see those crosses, which have been given to us by God. In so
doing, we will be better able to hear what melody we are giving back to
God-a beautiful song of praise and thanks, or one of bitterness and
complaint. If you find that your song is the former, then give more praise
and thanks and ask for the grace to go forward. If it is, by chance, the
latter, then it is not too late to get in tune and form your life into a
symphony of such celestial music that the angels harmonize with you.
Edith Stein wove a beautiful melody, which will never end for her. Little
Audrey is doing the same, and the melody woven each day by her mother is of
such Heavenly notes that we, in our humanity, are embarrassed, even shocked
by its beauty. We shouldn't be. Instead, we should look upon it as a true
sign of what God expects of each of us in our every day life, and then we
should strive to do it. God is the one who brings all things to
Perfection, as he did with Edith Stein, as he is doing for Audrey, for
Linda Santo, and the entire Santo family. Let us join then with the
Heavenly choir and sing in joy because we do suffer, and not because we
flee from it.