Friday, February 17, 2012

The bishop and Bakhita

Since many readers were interested to read about St. Josephine Bakhita in the post I wrote about her last week, I thought I would share today a quote from a public appearance Pope Benedict made in 2007 where he related a story about the saint.

Speaking of the need "to understand that the true treasure of our life is living in the Lord's love and never losing this love," the Holy Father said:

"We have found, indeed, we have been found by the love of the Lord, and the more we let ourselves be moved by his love in sacramental life, in prayer life, in the life of work, in our free time, the better we will understand that indeed, I have found the true pearl, all the rest is worthless, all the rest is important only to the extent that the Lord's love attributes these things to me. I am rich, I am truly rich and borne aloft if I am in this love. Here I find the center of life, its riches. Then let us allow ourselves to be guided, let us allow Providence to decide what to do with us.

"Here a little story springs to my mind about St. Bakhita, the beautiful African saint who was a slave in Sudan and then discovered the faith in Italy, who became a Sister. When she was old, the Bishop who was paying a visit to her religious house had not met her. He spotted this small, bent African Sister and said to Bakhita: 'But what do you do, Sister?'; and Sr. Bakhita replied: 'I do the same as you, Your Excellency.' Astonished, the Bishop asked her: 'But what?', and Bakhita answered, 'But Your Excellency, we both want to do the same thing: God's will.'

"This seems to me to be a most beautiful answer, the Bishop and the tiny Sister who was almost no longer capable of working, who were both doing the same thing in their different offices; they were seeking to do God's will and so were in the right place."

St. Josephine Bakhita is one of the saints featured in my upcoming book of Catholic spirituality for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. The book is now available for pre-order on

Image Stained-glass window of St. Josephine Bakhita, D R Art Glass Studio.