Editor’s note: Throughout the Year of Faith, Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt will offer a series of columns based on the reflection series “Catholicism Today” that he gave during First Friday devotions at St. James Church while on pastoral year. This is the second column in the series.
St. Marianne Cope: Woman of faith, beacon of hope
By Rev. Mr. Christopher R. Seibt
Sun contributing writer
We began our reflections on our Catholic faith last time by taking a look at the first half of the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church called “The Profession of Faith.” In this section you and I discovered that God exists and is for us the greatest mystery at which we can only marvel. He is the fulfillment of the desire for “something” greater that we have deep within us and he is the “something” greater that causes all things to exist. He is the “someone” who love us and gives meaning and purpose to our lives. He is the “someone” who makes himself known to us in and through the gift of divine Revelation, namely his son, Jesus Christ with the help of the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church.
All of this, you and I realized, requires a response from us: the response of faith. As individuals we say, “Yes, I believe!” and as members of the Church we say, “Yes, We believe!” But what does our response of faith look like?
Pope Benedict XVI has urged the Church, particularly young people, to study the lives of the saints during this Year of Faith in order to follow their example. And so, we take our cue from him and look at our very own St. Marianne Cope, who is for all of us in the diocese of Syracuse a model of faith and a beacon of hope.
In a letter to her nephew, Paul Cope, St. Marianne writes, “How many graces did He not shower down on me, from my birth till now. Should I have a thousand years I could not in ever so small a degree thank Him for His gifts and blessings.” What is striking about these simple words is that they express a profound sense of gratitude for all the wonderful things that God had done and was doing for her. In many ways, they echo the gratitude that the Blessed Virgin Mary felt when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to give birth to the Son of God: “The Almighty had done great things for me and holy is his name” (Lk 1:49).
The short biography from the program of the Rite of Canonization for St. Marianne says, “Initially, Mo. Marianne only intended to help the six volunteer sisters to settle down in the mission. Deeply touched by the plight of those with Hansen’s Disease (then known as leprosy), she chose instead to remain with them.” Perhaps her recognition of God’s grace and the deep sense of gratitude that followed is what initially led St. Marianne to remain with the suffering people of Molokai. Her response of faith to God, all that he reveals to us and all that he offers us — namely salvation — in and through his Son, Jesus Christ, took the form of caring for the people who needed her the most because of their great suffering.
St. Marianne Cope, then, is a woman of faith. She came to the point in her life where she said, “Yes, I believe!” This, in turn, led her to say “yes” to whatever God was asking of her, no matter how hard or difficult it was. And that, my friends, is what gives us hope.
What does our response of faith look like? Certainly, it is different for each one of us. Yet, at its core it looks like the “yes” that St. Marianne Cope said to whatever God asked of her. Recognizing and being motivated by a profound sense of gratitude for all the wonderful things that God has done and continues to do for us, St. Marianne serves as a model of faith and a beacon of hope for us to move from saying “Yes, I believe!” to saying “yes” to whatever the Lord asks of us.
Next time, we will conclude our reflections on the first section of the Catechism by examining the articles of the Creed we profess, namely the truths about our faith that stem from our relationship with the Lord. But for now, we recognize that St. Marianne Cope is indeed a woman of faith, a beacon of hope, and a powerful intercessor. May she may intercede for us so that we will always respond “yes” in faith as she did.
Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt is a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Syracuse. He is originally from St. Daniel Parish. Currently, Deacon Seibt is a seminarian at Theological College in Washington D.C., studying at the Catholic University of America.