|Memorial of St. Martin of Tours - bishop
34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We
are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
I wish to give thanks for three ‘faithful servants’ and to pray for
their light to inspire and strengthen us in living out our obligations as
Christian servants today. St. Martin of Tours, whose feast the Church
celebrates today, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, MM, founder of the School of the America’s
Watch, and Ligeia “Gigi” Cannon, spiritual companion, teacher, sister, wife,
mother, grandmother and friend whose life hundreds celebrated at St. John’s
Church on the feast of All Saints. Their lives embody the tensions
of today’s scriptures’call to holiness.
Like St. Martin of Tours of the fourth century, Fr. Roy felt he was doing
his duty, serving as a soldier in the military. Both experienced unexpected
conversions through contact with Christ in the poor and suffering and felt
commanded to resist violence. Both were imprisoned for acts of civil
disobedience and later ordained to serve the church as priests and peacemakers
for many years.
On November 21st three thousand members of Ignatian schools and communities,
including 57 of us from Creighton University and Creighton Prep High School
will travel to Columbus, Georgia for an “Ignatian Family Teach-In” and prayer
for peace and justice in today’s world. We meet there in conjunction
with the School of the Americas Watch protest and vigil begun by Fr. Roy
on the first year's anniversary of the assassination of the 6 Jesuits from
the University in El Salvador by School of the Americas graduates.
And then there is Gigi. The scripture tells us the ‘souls of the just are
in the hand of God’ that ‘they shall judge nations and rule over peoples.’
I am expecting some great things now that Gigi Cannon is in a position of
greater influence! Having shared the ‘Commons Café’ with
Gigi in 2001 and served with her on the Social Ministry Commission, I know
how much she longed for peace and for justice in our world. I am sure
at times she felt like an ‘unprofitable servant’ in the face of all that
is not as God wills in our world.
So many of us were drawn to her for spiritual direction because of her depth,
her tenderness, her vast and varied life experience, her gentleness and humility,
her directness and vitality. This woman knew God and communed with
God. All of us who long for closeness with God were drawn to Gigi like
We were stunned at the onset of her cancer and struggled with being
given little time before her death. Her ‘going forth from us’
seems like ‘utter destruction’ but Wisdom’s author says God formed us to
be ‘imperishable’ and ‘in God’s own nature’! (v 2:23) Having known
Gigi, we better know God’s own nature. It is the experience of this
infinite and unconditional love that empowers us to keep putting one foot
in front of the other, doing what we are obliged to do and at times taking
risks as peacemakers, extravagant lovers of the poor and of the God of justice.
Thank you, God, that you continue to raise up saints and prophets among us
like Gigi, Roy and Martin, who help us to taste your bold and boundless love
for us and for our world, and who by their freedom and courage inspire us
to do all that is commanded us.