Follow Lenten pilgrimage 2018

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


“Wake Up the World With the Light of the Gospel” – what a fitting theme for the 2017 Pauline Cooperator Convention recently held in Des Plaines, IL.  As a young boy, our founder, Blessed James Alberione, was told by his mother, “we need your light; give us your light.”  He was old enough to hold the lantern so others could see the way.  Then, as a seminarian, during the night that divided the 19th century from the 20th century while in perpetual adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a particular light came to James from the Eucharist.  He had a greater understanding of Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all of you”.  The Pauline Family was thus born from the inspiration received from the “light” of the tabernacle that night.  From my first encounter with the Daughters of St. Paul in a book center in NJ, the Family has been a continuum of light for me.

After attending the Convention, the theme of light seemed to come to me more often.  I started to think about how to be a light to others.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to be lights in the darkness.  How do we do this?

I would like to first share a recent experience.  Shortly after the Convention, I was given the opportunity to help the Daughters of St. Paul with a book exhibit at a diocesan conference -- one of the many things I enjoy doing as a Pauline Cooperator.  While the DVDs, books, etc., were warmly welcomed by the attendees, I left the conference lifted up by the people I met that day.

As I walked past one of the exhibitor’s tables, the numerous pamphlets and cards depicting “light” caught my attention.  While chatting with the two women manning the booth, I learned that one was the recipient of a double lung transplant and the other lost her 13-month old baby in a car accident and donated her organs.  There were no words.  What could I say to these women?  All I did was cry and we all hugged.  It is one thing to read about these life-altering situations, but to come face to face with people who lived through them made it so real.  These women who had experienced so much pain were filled with “light” and I was deeply impacted by meeting them.  Later, while reading one of their pamphlets, I learned that many people make and donate “comfort’ blankets to the families of organ donors.  I love to crochet – don’t think I need to tell you about my new project!

Other people I met that day also shined their light – the young girl (a postulant) who recently joined a religious order only a month before was smiling and full of joy; the priest in a wheelchair who writes for our local diocesan paper, a widower and former pediatrician who is now a newly ordained priest– they were all shining stars to me that day!

What keeps us from shining in our day-to-day lives?  We usually have good intentions, but our lives are busy.  We run from one thing to another and usually in a hurry.  I would often think that it takes a big project to make a difference.  In reality, it is often the unspoken words and small acts of random kindness.  As we decorate our homes with light during this Advent Season and light the candles on our Advent Wreathes, we also need to let our interior light shine -- send a special “thinking of you” card or a positive, uplifting text.  Consider being a blogger.  If you like to write, encourage others through words.  When it is difficult to find the right words of comfort for someone struggling, let them know you are praying for them or light a candle.

The words of St. Paul come to mind:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you’ll be blameless and pure, unblemished children of God amidst a twisted and perverted generation among whom you’ll shine like stars in the world” (Phil 2: 14-15) and  “The Spirit’s fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22)  As Blessed James wrote in Thoughts:  “The apostle is one who carries God within and radiates God to others.”

As a divine coincidence and a surprise to
me, today is the Feast of St. Lucy.  Her name, “Lucia” means “Light.”  In Italy, torchlight processions mark her day.  In Norway, Sweden and regions of Finland, girls dressed as Saint Lucy carry cookies and saffron buns in procession, which symbolizes bringing the light of Christianity throughout world darkness.  Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as an event signaling the Light of Christ on Christmas Day.

Like young James, let’s keep our lanterns lit as we continue our Advent journey and sing this familiar song:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, shine, shine
Let it shine!


Maryann Toth has been a Pauline Cooperator for eight years. Semi-retired as a credit/AR manager in NJ, she is a wife, a mother of two daughters, and a grandmother of four. She serves as a Eucharistic minister and belongs to a Divine Mercy Cenacle group. Maryann assists at Pauline book fairs and J-Club events, schedules meetings and prayer times for local Cooperators and friends of the Pauline Family, and accompanied a candidate in the Cooperator formation program. She participated in a Pauline Cooperator pilgrimage to Italy in 2010. 

1 comment:

Christine Dufresne said...

What a lovely reflection on Light needed most when we are here in the darkest days of the year.