As I write this reflection, I am reaching another milestone and entering a new decade of life. I have no concerns about the birthday and the “new age” – an entire new list of discounts will be added to those already available to us “seasoned” folks. Nevertheless, it did give me pause to think about acceptance with where we are in life. Since I have been “exposed” to the topic of acceptance at a couple of encounters this past weekend, I am convinced that I am to write about acceptance for this reflection.
My mother enjoyed certain symbols of spirituality and prayers; when I see or hear them, I quickly think of her. She loved the praying hands (I even made her a pair in ceramics). Two of her favorite prayers were the 23rd Psalm and the Serenity Prayer. As I was thinking about acceptance, I was reminded of her love for these prayers and how centered they are on acceptance. Even the hands are symbolic of faith and acceptance. How we fight sometimes in our lives against things that are not in our control. We use so much energy with no results other than frustration and hopelessness. How different it would be to truly, “accept the things I cannot change.”
With this theme of acceptance in the back of my mind, I began researching St Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish saint of just the last century. I soon was aware of the connection and better understand living with acceptance. He survived tuberculosis to live the rest of his life in a fragile existence but did without complaint. St Maximilian used his energies not to fight against life but to make the most of it. He founded a movement devoted to Mary, became ordained as a priest, received a doctorate in theology, and published a magazine to promote the movement. Even more, he formed a community of 800 men and then traveled to Japan and India promoting the order. Imagine what he would have done if he were not fragile!!
St. Maximilian’s return to Poland because of ill health was ill-timed. He was imprisoned after the Nazi invasion in 1939 and then released – only to be arrested again and sent to Auschwitz. His stay there was comparatively brief and he sacrificed his life in place of a young father and husband when ten prisoners were chosen to die. The death was not a quick one, rather over two weeks of enduring starvation, thirst, and neglect. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 1982. What an example of acceptance – accepting not only the limitations of his life but also that he was to serve God in so many ways including his death.
Once again, there is no accident in the call to discuss acceptance for this day. Our faith and acceptance will see us through beyond this fragile earth of ours. Our acceptance will provide us with serenity if we allow it. As the responsorial psalm states, His mercy endures forever. When we accept that we are not in this world alone but with the Grace of God, then we can truly develop and grow and accept his mercy. The gospel also speaks to us of acceptance:
I want to conclude with an excerpt from a reading about acceptance that I heard this weekend.
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