Tag Archives: Belgium

Blessed Isidore de Loor

isidore-de-loor

Since their founding in the mid 1800s, the Passionists have given the church a variety of saints and blessed. St. Paul of the Cross, a preacher and mystic, St. Vincent Strambi, a holy bishop during the Napoleanic Wars, Blessed Dominic Barberi, a fervent missionary to England, St. Gabriel Possenti a young Italian saint who died in his early 20s, Blessed Eugene Bossilkov, a martyr bishop under the Communists in Bulgaria in the 1950s.

October 6th we honor Blessed Isidore de Loor 1881-1916, from the Flemish part of Belgium, who entered the Passionists as a lay brother at 26.

The opening prayer for a feast usually indicates why a saint or blessed is honored.

Lord God,

in Blessed Isidore’s spirit of humility and work

you have given us a life hidden in the shadow of the Cross.

Grant that our daily work be a praise to you

and a loving service to our brothers and sisters.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Isidore was a humble, hard worker. He spent the first 26 years of his life working the family farm in Vrasene, Belgium, with his parents, brother and sister. Farming was tough at the time, demanding long hours and offering little to show for it. The agricultural sector in Belgium was near collapse. Yet, Isidore praised God and served his brothers and sisters through hard continuing work.

Prayer was the hidden power motivating his life. Isidore taught catechism in his parish; prayed at local shrines and made the Stations of the Cross daily. He wanted to enter religious life, but delayed till his brother Franz was free from a call-up for military service and could keep up the family farm.

Entering the Passionists as a brother, he took on whatever responsibilities they gave him to do. At first, they told him to be the community cook. “Before I dug the earth, planted seed and harvested crops, now I cut vegetables, put them in pots on the stove and cook them till they’re ready,” he told his family. Whatever his work, he saw it as God’s will and a way to serve.

In 1911, cancer developed in Isidore’s eye and it had to be removed. He was not cancer free, the doctors said, cancer eventually would take his life. God’s will be done, he said.

As his strength declined, he became porter at the monastery door. World War 1 was beginning and German troops invaded Belgium. The frightened people who came to the monastery found support in the quiet faith of “Good Brother Isidore”.

In late summer 1916 Isidore’s health worsened. He died of cancer October 6, 1916, as German troops occupied the area and some were billeted in the monastery itself. He was buried quietly; his family and religious community were not allowed to attend. Yet, he would not be forgotten.

When the war ended, people came to the “Good Brother’s” grave. Cures from cancer and other illnesses occurred. They recognized a holy man who worked and prayed each day and served his brothers and sisters. A friend of God.

Pilate Remembers

 

A friend from Belgium, Father Harry Gielen, has been collecting poems on the Passion of Jesus for years. He sent a selection of them to me recently and I hope to offer one each Friday.

 

Pilate Remembers

I wonder why that scene comes back tonight,

That long-forgotten scene of years ago.

Perhaps this touch of spring, that full white moon,

For it was spring, and spring’s white moon hung low

Above my garden on the night He died.

I still remember how I felt disturbed

That I must send Him to a felon’s cross

On such a day when spring was in the air,

And in His life, for He was young to die.

How tall and strong He stood, how calm His eyes,

Fronting me straight and while I  questioned Him;

His fearless heart spoke to me through His eyes.

Could I have won Him as my follower,

And a hundred more beside, my way had led

To Caesar’s palace and I’d wear today

The imperial purple. But He would not move

One little bit from His wild madcap dream

Of seeking truth. What wants a man with “truth”

When he is young and spring is at the door?

He would not listen, so He had to go.

One mad Jew less meant little to the state,

And pleasing Annas made my task the less.

And yet for me He spoiled that silver night,-

Remembering it was spring and he was young

William E. BROOKS, in: Chapter into Verse, Oxford University Press, 2000