Wednesday 5 October 2022

A life explained only by faith in God

At first glance, the life of today’s saint, Luigi Scrosoppi, doesn’t seem to be much of a success story. When his Oratory in Udine was suppressed by the government, he helped to buy the property back and re-found it, only for it to be abolished a second time. Without his Oratory, his great work became founding the ‘House for the Destitute’ for abandoned orphans. He started this work with only a trust in divine providence. When he needed to expand the house, he begged the locals for building materials and was treated like a criminal. Luigi and his orphans had no ability to provide food for themselves, but relied solely on the gifts of others. Luigi used to assemble his hungry congregation in the chapel and knock on the tabernacle door to let Our Lord know when they had no bread.

Luigi’s life was not a success by worldly standards, and by those same standards his actions make no sense. He lost all his property trying to re-found the Oratory; he opened himself up to abuse trying to care for children who weren’t his; he was forced to rely on the gifts of others, who often let him down. And that is what faith can sometimes seem like. We do things that, to the outside world, make no sense. We live a life that can only be explained by our faith in God.

We sometimes struggle with what it looks like to have faith, to trust in God. Faith does not mean that, when things go wrong, we should shut our eyes, pretend everything is fine, and tell ourselves we don’t need to do anything, just keep trusting in God and everything will be alright.

When things go wrong, we can say so. We can certainly say so to God, who might choose to fix them for us. But if he doesn’t, it might be that he wants us to do something about it ourselves, like Luigi caring for his orphans.

Even when we are trying to do good, that doesn’t mean we will be immune to things going wrong. Christ trusted perfectly in his Father, and bad things happened to him. Luigi brought abuse on himself because he was trying to look after those in need.

God’s providence is not a promise that our lives will be painless, but neither does it mean that God intends the bad that happens to us. It is a promise that no matter what does happen, good or bad, God never abandons us. God promises that all will be well in the end, even though all might not be well on the way.

Luigi gives us an example of faith put into action. His life was motivated by a trust in divine providence. And that is the kind of success we should all be aiming for.

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