“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will gather me up” (Psalm 27:10).
Reflection: Blessed Margaret of Castello (13th c.) is Patron of the Unwanted. When her parents, who were respected nobility, discovered at her birth that she was a badly deformed dwarf, hunchback and blind, they decided that they did not want anyone to see her. They refused to give her a name, locker her up in a small cell, and eventually abandoned her while traveling. Had we been among those who knew what Margaret’s parents were doing to her, would we have spoken up?
Prayer: Blessed Margaret, pray that we may speak up for the unwanted. Amen
On Good Friday, we sing, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” We imagine standing along with Mary, St. John, and the others on the first Good Friday, and the answer to the question is “Yes.” We were there, because He died for us, and our sins were on His shoulders. What about Christmas? What if we sang, “Were you there when the King of Kings was born?” Nativity scenes, and the meditations which spiritual writers provide us about that first Christmas, help us enter into the drama and meaning of that event.
There is a way to be there, and it is to open ourselves to the joy and meaning of the birth of every child – to see in each child, even the unwanted and unexpected, a reflection of the Christ Who comes even today.
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The First Commandment is “I am the Lord your God; you shall not have other gods besides me.” There are many ways of having false gods. Pope John Paul II once wrote that to think we are the ones who decide whether a child should be created is to say that God is not God. At the root of the contraceptive mentality, and at the root of the so-called “pro-choice” mentality, is idolatry. We place our choices before God’s choices. We break the first of all the commandments. In the Old Testament, we read that God’s people committed idolatry when they sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire to demons. Until we end the child sacrifice of legal abortion, we are guilty of the same kind of idolatry. Let us worship the Lord of Life!
Blessed Margaret of Castello was beatified on Oct. 19, 1609. She was born to a wealthy family, and when they saw that she was hunchback, dwarf, blind and lame, they were ashamed of her and kept her hidden from view. Eventually, to make sure nobody saw her condition, the family kept her enclosed in a prison-like cell. One day they took her to a Franciscan Shrine, but then abandoned her there.
Despite her miseries, Margaret was serene, cheerful and courageous. She found strength in prayer, in daily Mass, in Holy Communion, and eventually became a sister of the order of St. Dominic. She has become an inspiration to those who are discouraged and tempted to self-pity. Her story likewise provides a good examination of conscience. If we were around at the time of Blessed Margaret and knew that her family was keeping her in a cell, would we have spoken up for her?
Blessed Margaret is the Patron Saint of the Unwanted.
Prayer in Honor of Blessed Margaret of Castello:
Your care extends to every human person,
No matter what afflictions they suffer,
And you uphold the dignity of every human life,
Regardless of the false ways that the world may calculate its value.
You gave us Blessed Margaret of Castello as a sign and a challenge.
You permitted your glory to shine through her human weakness,
And called those around her to love her
Despite her physical limitations.
Forgive us when we fail to defend the least among us.
Through the intercession of Blessed Margaret,
Give us grace to speak up for the outcast
and to welcome those who are rejected.
When this brief life is over,
Grant that we who have welcomed all our brothers and sisters,
May be welcomed by you into the life that never ends.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.