St. Jerome Emiliani: Soldier of the Underprivileged
Our lives are a series of encounters with others, most times good, other times just awful. No one fully knows the backgrounds of those we encounter, what they have gone through and perhaps why they act the way they do. What we do see, however, is their behavior before us. Sometimes, their actions leave us bewildered, hurt and angry. On the other hand, during the many times we are blessed by being in the presence of a kind, generous person, we thank God for the influences in their life which propelled them to being kind and understanding in their daily encounters.
We know that St. Jerome Emiliani was a strong soldier in the Venetian army who relied on his own power and his fellow army for strength. We know that he didn't have a relationship with God until he was imprisoned and was converted. We don't know who or what exactly inspired his conversion, but it was powerful. When he escaped from prison, he returned home to Venice and entered the seminary. He devoted his life in total service to orphans and abandoned children, and founded the Congregation of Clerks Regular of Somascha to staff the orphanages he opened.
In the darkness of his cell, St. Jerome Emiliani found a way to pray. He freed himself from the chains of any earthly imprisonment and embraced the freedom of Grace which led him to the powerful position of being able to care for the underprivileged orphans of his community.
So often, we chain ourselves to things that enslave us in an endless search for bigger and better, all the while missing the important face of Christ found everywhere on our paths. While Saint Jerome Emiliani is the patron of orphans and abandoned children (whose feast day is Feb. 8th), we ask him to intercede to God that we might have the courage to break the chains of confinement in our own lives. It all starts with one small prayer in the darkness.
More information on Saint Jerome Emiliani can be found here.
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