Certain stories in the lives of the saints can inspire our actions and even make us more fearless. This is what happened to me with Cardinal Alexandru Todea. In 1999, during a mission to Romania, I had the unexpected privilege of meeting this great martyr of the Faith who had spent years in communist prisons. At the time of my visit, he was already old and bedridden, having suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was being cared for like a child, unable to move or speak. Except when he prayed the Rosary! His tongue would immediately loosen and he would pray with us before falling back into silence.
Before his injury, he told us that one day, while he was in solitary confinement in a squalid dungeon, he was terribly hungry like so many of his companions and realized that he would not survive this treatment much longer. He then thought that he should stop acting as if he were an orphan, and instead tug insistently on his mother's apron. He decided to appeal to Mary’s feelings, in an almost threatening tone:
"Mother, can’t you see that I'm starving! Don't you care? If one day I am released and get to preach again, I will not be able to give you as an example of a wonderful Mother as I have done so many times! For you are letting me starve to death, I’m your child remember!"
Later that morning, he heard the click of the metal flap, a noise he hadn’t heard in more than two days. Miraculously, there was meat in his mess tin! There was so much meat in fact that it was enough for his lunch, supper, and even food left over for the next day! But in the evening, the bowls had to be returned. Alexandru could not finish such a large amount of food—it would have made him sick, since his stomach had shrunk. Reluctantly, he returned the rest of the meat to his jailer. But, another miracle was waiting for him! In spite of all the prison rules, the guard let him keep his bowl. The guy smiled at him and said that he could keep it for the next day!
It is never too late to cry out to our Mother from the depths of our heart!
The fruits obtained by trust are countless, when, in a dialogue of the heart, we turn to our Mother with great familiarity. The saints help us to leave behind a certain automatic and boring devotion. They introduce us to that famous "meeting of hearts" that Mary brings to us, especially in Medjugorje. It is beautiful to see so many pilgrims arrive with a tense face and an oppressed heart and leave with a smile on their face, because they have personally met their heavenly Mother. Mary likes it when we talk to her frankly, with the simplicity of a child, and expect a lot of her. This gives her the freedom to act as a mother.
Read the rest of this story tomorrow, June 1, 2021.
Sister Emmanuel Maillard is French, she is a member of the Community of the Beatitudes. She has lived in Medjugorje since 1989 and travels all over the world to evangelize. She is the author of Délivrances et guérisons par le jeûne www.editions-beatitudes.com/catalogue/spiritualite/delivrances-et-guerisons-par-le-jeune/