In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to be on their guard and to stay awake. This theme of alertness has been running through the Gospels this month but what does it mean?
I think there are two very inspiring young people who can give us a glimpse into what it means to ‘stay awake’; namely Sr Clare Crockett* and Blessed Carlos Acutis**. Both were devoted to God in different ways but both shared a common view of the type of devotion required which was ‘all or nothing’. Wow what a high bar! This term ‘all or nothing’ may sound daunting and one might ask, where does one start?
I think Sr Clare, demonstrates the path in one way by showing us that sometimes this commitment to God does not happen all at once but as a gradual evolvement, once we take the first step.
Sr Clare as a young girl, wanted nothing more than to become a famous actress. She radiated this passion daily and took parts in school plays and in local theatres whenever are wherever the opportunity arose. She was always centre of attention at parties, family gatherings, amongst friends and exuded such confidence.
However, this all began to change when an opportunity arose for her to go on a pilgrimage to Spain. In fact, she thought she was going on a sun holiday and had no understanding of what a pilgrimage was. When she realised the true focus of her journey she decided to give it a go. It was here that she underwent a conversion and realization that Jesus died on the Cross for her.
Even with this realization, she still could not let go her dream of being a famous actress and so continued down this path when she returned home. It was while she was on an acting job and well on her way to a successful career that she suddenly realized she was unhappy, deeply unhappy. Although she was in the best of hotels, eating the best of food, partying with friends each night, she felt empty. It was then she understood that to be truly happy she must change her dream from being a famous actor to being a famous Nun!! She realised that she could not decide for God fully while she remained in a lifestyle that contradicted God’s way. She decided to devote herself to the Will of God.
Sr Clare continued to demonstrate by her life that when we decide for God we must decide fully. This does not mean that we all have to become priests or nuns, but it does mean that we cannot truly love God if we offend him on an ongoing basis. God does not seek our part time love, we must love Him fully and demonstrate this in all we do.
Sr Clare demonstrated by her selfless life and commitment to God that unless we live life in the knowledge of the presence of God, our lives will be unhappy, they will be unfulfilled, and they will feel empty.
Blessed Carlos Acutis walked a different path to Sr Clare but none the less devoted. His goal in life was ‘to always be close to Jesus’. Carlos was a young teenager and like many teenagers he attended school, hung out with his friends, played on the computer, and did many of the things that all teenagers did. However, Carlos managed to incorporate Jesus into every aspect of his life. He did not separate his ‘teenage’ life from his devotion to God, his fulfilment in life, lived out of his ‘all or nothing’ approach to God. The Church has recognized Carlos’s approach to life as an inspiring one for young people today and made him Blessed Carlos Acutis on the 17th of October 2020.
Both these young people radiate this weeks Gospel. When called to their heavenly reward, both were alert and ready. We are reminded that in walking our own paths that we can call on our Saints to support and help us on our way, to be beacons on the path of life and to prompt us daily to how we can incorporate Jesus even into the little areas of our lives.
Jesus you told your disciples to be ready, to be alert. As we lift our eyes towards you, listen to our cries as we say, Jesus enable us to stay awake enable us to be ready, we open our hearts and minds to you. Sr Clare and Blessed Carlos pray for us.
By Colette O’Doherty
Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry
*For more on Clare Crockett please visit https://www.sisterclare.com/en/
**For more on Blessed Carlos Acutis please visit https://carloacutis-en.org/