Tag Archives: World War 1

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.

I Will Bless The Lord At All Times

I’m reading a biography of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States from 1913 till 1921, who led the country through the brutal years of the First World War, which we remembered yesterday, November 11, Armistice Day.

Wilson was a deeply religious man, the son of a Presbyterian pastor, a wonderful writer and an eloquent speaker. Biographers today tend to use the tools of psychology to explain their subjects but the biographer of this book explains Wilson mostly through his religious beliefs– a refreshing approach.
{ Woodrow Wilson, A Life for World Peace, Jan Willem Shulte Nordholt, Berkeley. Ca. 1991}

Wilson believed that God was good, that people were good, that God was calling all nations to live in peace, and that God had given our country, the United States, a providential role among the family of nations, as a beacon of goodness and righteousness.

He was too much of an optimist, his biographer says. He didn’t see the dark side of humanity or the dark side of our own country. He thought that if you appealed to the better nature of people they would do the right thing. He couldn’t believe people would throw themselves into an awful war, or America could exploit other nations. He saw the world as the beautiful world described by Wordsworth in his poems, not a world devastated by storms (like the one that just struck the Philippines}. He was too optimistic, a Christian without the cross.

And that caused him to underestimate evil and to overestimate political solutions and possibilities. He saw the world incompletely. How many Christians are like him today?

“I will bless the Lord at all times.” (Psalm 34) The psalm is the response to our reading from the Book of Wisdom at today’s Mass; God is with us at all times, good and bad, it says. No need to be blind to evils like death and destruction, the psalm continues. “The Lord has eyes for the just, and ears for their cry… The Lord confronts the evildoers…The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” The Lord is with us in bad times as well as good.

We can “bless the Lord at all times.”