Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

"One of the first signs of a saint may well be the fact that other people do not know what to make of him. In fact, they are not sure whether or not he is crazy or only proud; but it must at least be pride to be haunted by some individual ideal which nobody but God really comprehends. And he has inescapable difficulties in applying all the abstract norms of' perfection' to his own life. He cannot seem to make his life fit in withthe books.

Sometimes his case is so bad that no monastary will keep him. He has to be dismissed, sent back to the world, like Benedict Joseph Labre, who wanted to be a Trappist and a Carthusian and succeeded in neither. He finally ended up as a tramp. He died in some street in Rome.

And yet the only canonized saint, venerated by the whole Church, who lived either as a Cisterican or a Carthusian since the Middle Ages is St. Benedict Joseph Labre."

-- Thomas Merton

New Seeds of Contemplationend of the "Integrity” chapter, p. 105 in the Shambala edition

More information about St. Benedict Joseph Labre is here.