Early in 1912 St. Frances Cabrini had a reservation for an ocean voyage from Europe to New York, but because of administrative problems at Columbus Hospital in New York City, she canceled her trip and took another ship a month earlier. The ship she would have traveled on was the Titanic. This brush with death was yet another example of God’s ongoing protection. It all began with a near drowning in a river at the age of seven, which left St. Frances with a persistent fear of water. This life-long anxiety caused her great turmoil as she realized her call to be a traveling missionary.
Tell God Your Fears
So one day St. Frances took her fears before the Sacred Heart in prayer. Jesus responded with a promise, “I (will) protect and guide you with my hands from one sea to the other.” So she put her faith in God often and boarded many sea-going vessels for the sake of her missionary commitment to immigrants. Mother Cabrini survived many dangers at sea during her twenty-three international ocean voyages. And she also survived dangerous visits in coal mines, trips into yellow fever infested neighborhoods, a donkey ride down the side of a precipice, and decades of poor health. But none of these things mattered. She trusted God.
Move Forward in Trust
Therese was reminded of this trust during a visit to St. Frances Cabrini’s shrine in New York City where she offered God a newly released book on evangelizing children. She enjoyed talking to St. Frances about this work and recommitted herself to her educational ministry, despite fears of managing whole classrooms full of children. She told God she was willing to “speak of Jesus and make Jesus known,” as St. Frances would say. Then Therese went to a side chapel to light a candle for her dad whose leg was recently amputated. She had just lit an electric “candle”, when a young boy named Manny charged into the side chapel and pushed the buttons on three more candles. Therese stopped him after the third one and told him she could show him something exciting about the candles. He was interested.
Act on What God Asks
“These candles are like little door bells that we can use to talk to God,” she explained.
“I want to talk to her,” Manny said pointing at St. Frances’s statue. Therese asked what he would like to talk to St. Frances about. Then they were ready to begin by lighting one (more) candle.
“Mother Cabrini,” Therese prayed aloud, “Let me introduce you to Manny. He came here to talk to you and to ask you to help his dad find a job. And since we know that you loved Jesus so much, please ask Jesus to help too. (Then she paused.) Thanks for listening and for this great place where we can talk to you and to God. Amen.” Manny enjoyed their prayer and left with a quick “Thank you” when his grandmother appeared at the entrance to the side chapel.
Tap into God’s Love
What fears do you face as you try to live out the vocation and the call to ministry that you have received from God? What particular people has Jesus Christ asked you to serve and to lay aside your fears for? Perhaps praying St. Francis Cabrini’s favorite Scripture often might help you. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13