March 13, 2018
“Don’t lock yourself in your room.” One of the first things I heard after entering Mundelein Seminary was the strong recommendation to keep the door to my room open as often as possible. Sometimes I want to keep to myself and struggle to accept visitors into my life, but a visit from a brother seminarian, even when it seems to be inconvenient, can often be life-giving. We are made for community, to learn to live more other-centered; this pilgrimage has certainly offered many opportunities to practice other-centered living.
Our Blessed Mother certainly knew how life-giving a visit can be. When our group visited the home of Elizabeth in the hill country, where Mary ministered to her six months pregnant cousin, I was particularly moved by the painting in the chapel there.
The painting doesn’t do justice to how hilly this hill country actually is, but it does beautifully symbolize the effect of her loving visit. Mary is shown walking through a wilderness, a desert in which all the means for life are absent. And yet, at her feet, plants are beginning to sprout and bloom. So often, while we have been studying the Prophets, we learned how the wilderness (symbol of sin, of slavery, of loneliness) is the place where God shows his mercy and brings new life.
Even though we all need some time to be alone, moments when we close the door to our room, I also know that life is very burdensome without a sense of belonging to a group, without a sense of communion with others. Loneliness can become like a desert/wilderness. Yet as I learn to accept others into my life and reach out to them that desert can be filled with life.
By Br. Matthew Schuster, S.J.C. – Canons Regular of St. John Cantius
Photos by Declan McNicholas, Diocese of Gary, and Peter Pedrasa, Diocese of Tucson