Wednesday, November 25, 2015

St.Christopher, Pray for Us!

This time of year and this year in particular, the whole world seems to be in motion.

The Holy Father sets out this week for Africa, where so many pilgrims even now are journeying to see him and pray with him.  Refugees and migrants in their tens and hundreds of thousands are on the move.  And in my own country, the airports and highways are filled with travelers headed home for Thanksgiving.

All this travel in a time of so much apprehension and fear and uncertainty.  The State Department issued a worldwide travel advisory for US citizens this afternoon and in France, Belgium and throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East no-one knows when or where terrorists might/will strike again.

Living in the comparative isolation of Douglas, Alaska, I won't be leaving town for Thanksgiving.  But I've been thinking about travel and travelers the past few days as I've worked on the drawing for a relief print of St.Christopher, patron saint of travelers.  He is shown bearing the Christ-child across a river with a swift current.  Tradition says that the saint, who was a giant of a man, was bowed down the weight of the child, who was almost to heavy for him to bear.  When they reached the other side, he realized that he was bearing Christ, who bears the weight of the whole world.

In the Middle Ages St. Christopher's image was placed in churches and on street corners and stamped on medals in the devout confidence that travelers who looked on his image would arrive safely home.  After the Second Vatican Council, in a (seemingly) less credulous era, St. Christopher was (unfortunately) removed from the Roman Calendar because there was no conclusive evidence that an actual saint named Christopher ever lived.

Yet he remains quite popular.  Not surprising really, for who can fail to be attracted to a saint whose name means Christ-bearer.  Which isn't a bad description of Christian discipleship and the universal vocation to holiness (see Lumen Gentium).

Like Christopher, each of us helps to bear other Christs a little or a long way through the swift, sometimes raging currents of life in this uncertain, dangerous but grace-filled world.

Yet our lives, our days, this world, are, in every moment, borne by Him.  Who bears us, in life, in every danger and distress, even in death itself, safely home.

St. Christopher, pray for us!

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