If I were worthy of such a favor from my God,
I would ask that he grant me this one miracle:
that by His grace He would make of me a good man.
What a marvelous desire—simply that God would make me good.
And oh what a miracle that would be.
For in this wish, is the knowledge that said goodness will not come by my own hands nor
by my own works…
but rather, only by the hand of God’s Grace and God’s Grace alone…
and thus a miracle beyond my mortal bounds
That such a goal should be my sole aim, my sole prayer…in this life…
that God would work to make me good…
Nothing grand, nothing special, nothing newsworthy, nothing glamorous…
neither rich, nor beautiful, nor thin, nor even particularly healthy…
nor powerful, nor smart, nor gifted…
For the past couple of days, a few of the saints from day’s gone by,
have crossed my 21st-century path.
The other day it was St Boniface, today it’s St Ansgar.
And not that any of those brave men and women,
those who helped to forge our faith into what it is today,
are ever very far from me— my thoughts, my observations or my recollections…
it’s just that when God throws a few of those stalwart souls before the steps of my path,
that obviously, I must stop and pay attention…
for with God, there are no accidents.
Saints, mind you, are not individuals who would have ever claimed, nor claim today,
themselves to be such…
More realistically they were, as the familiar expression goes, ordinary people,
doing extraordinary things…
Many were actually sickly and feeble of body, others, such as our dear St Peter, had moments
that were less than stellar, in fact, moments that screamed of deep character flaws.
But whoever said God wasn’t able to make those silk purses from the ears of swine?
He’s good that way…and I am most grateful!
For it seems that there are days, that I am more often than not,
content to spend my time lounging in the pigstye.
Yet this loving Father continues reaching into that nasty pit in order to pull me from the
odious mud, working to clean me off as He nudges me forward…
Only to watch me, bewildered I would imagine, time and time again running back to
the comfort of the mudstye…as I readily put off once again His agenda at hand.
But I don’t think God is ever bewildered as He already knows my choices and my decisions…
just as He persistently continues cleaning and nudging.
So today I must confess that St Boniface is much more recognizable to me than St Ansgar.
In fact, I had never heard of St Ansgar before today.
But it seems that he is known as “the apostle of the North”
North being Scandinavia.
He is also known as the patron saint of Denmark.
Now when I think of Scandinavia, I think of Vikings…and if we know anything about Vikings,
it’s that they were not the most peace-filled, warm and fuzzy, full embracing sort of individuals
one would want to actually encounter.
Theirs was a deeply rich and entrenched culture immersed in the notion of the Norse gods
The raging sea and the cold of their lands.
Throw in some plundering, pillaging and raping and you had the warrior clans of the North.
I can only imagine the trepidation about having to head into their territory to spread the Gospel
of the One Omnipotent God and the saving Grace found in His resurrected Son.
There were language barriers, cultural barriers, a climate barrier, a customs barrier,
a physical appearance barrier, and most importantly, an end-goal barrier—as in a Viking’s
end goal in life was not that of a Chrisitan missionary’s end goal.
Mongering and surviving vs converting.
Ansgar (801-865) who lived about 200 years following St Boniface, was much like Boniface
in that neither man lived long enough to see the fruits of their labors come to fruition.
Neither of the groups of soul’s hearts who they had been instructed to go forth and turn,
had their hearts turned during the lifetime of either of these Godly men.
Oh, there were the brief time periods of peace, hope and redemption…but nothing
permanent and long lasting…not until others followed in the footsteps of
these determined men many years later. Along a path that these men had bravely cut.
Yet neither man saw their life’s work as a waste of time.
The key was that they were doing what God had sent them to do.
God did not tell either man there would be success and glory in the end…
they each simply prayed that God would lead and they, in turn, would follow.
They had prayed to do God’s will…not their will, not their desires, but rather God’s…
and so they lived their lives doing just that.
One being martyred at the hands of those he wished to turn and the other dying after
seeing his life’s work destroyed by the very souls he yearned to turn.
History records what people do, rather than what they are.
Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a
solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.
Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.
Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in his own way;
he is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.
(excerpt from https://vitaesanctorum.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/saint-ansgar/ )
So we are reminded that no matter what He has to work with, God will always write straight…by that which will never seem straight in the eyes of the world— and it is there inwhich lies our prayer…that
by His Grace, He may make us good…
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.