Thought for the Day – 31 August – The Memorial of St Raymond Nonnatus
The life of St. Raymond Nonnatus is a life filled with extraordinary facts – from his birth after his mother had already died. Then, consider the torment he suffered of having a padlock perforating his lips. Imagine the enormous pain and discomfort of having a padlock cutting through one’s lips even in sleep. Think how this would bother a man and disturb his nervous system! Then, each time that he had to eat, a Moor would come and open the padlock, breaking the wounds anew and causing new sufferings. Closing it would produce additional torments. Was he allowed to drink water during the day? Can you imagine the discomfort of drinking anything in this situation? He endured this life for the period of eight months.
What did he do when he was freed? Did he have a psychological breakdown? Become discouraged? Feel sorry for himself? No. He took an extraordinarily manly attitude and returned to a life of intense activity. You see how he resisted the temptations to feel sorry for himself and stop fighting for the Catholic cause. His attitude demanded a highly supernatural spirit and a strong virile personality. You see the astonishing fortitude of soul such a man had. He returned and continued an active life for another ten years or so.
He traveled throughout Europe as an ambassador of the Pope and a preacher of the Crusade. What a powerful impression the word of his sermons delivered by his wounded lips must have made on the people!
Imagine such a scene: St. Raymond Nonnatus arriving in a city; the bells ringing and the word spreading that Fr. Raymond – the one with the wounded lips – is in town to preach a Crusade on behalf of the Pope. All the nobles and people of the area gather around with their families and he begins to speak. He speaks about the meaning of the Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ and what its profanation represents. How it is necessary to re-conquer it for the glory of God and Catholic honour. He speaks with the voice and prestige of a saint, with the supernatural power of communication that only the saints have.
The hearts of men opened to saints like St Raymond Nonnatus and St. Bernard who preached the Crusade
The hearts of the knights begin to be touched, the ladies weep and give their consent for their husbands to go and fight for the Holy Land. Everyone goes to Confession and the date of the Crusade is announced. The practical preparations start. All this happens because a saint passes through that area.
This imaginary scene may help you to understand what the Middle Ages was. The influence of the saints and the good reception the people gave them is what really explains why the Middle Ages had so many wonderful things and our epoch does not. The key is the presence of the saints and the openness people had for them. How few saints there are today! Knowing this, we understand the tragedy of the contemporary situation of the Church and the world.
Let us ask St. Raymond Nonnatus to give us more saints to regenerate the Church and the world and make the modern man recognise them and be receptive to their message.
St Raymond Nonnatus, pray for us!