One reason I love Malta is the people….
Because I am, finally, writing a novel (I I always write more in Europe than in the States, btw), after years of writing essays, articles, journalism, short stories, poetry, at the end of my busy days praying and out and about, I have been sitting in the lobby, where I have the short rental, writing, plus doing research.
This means that I have gotten into conversations with the two security guards, who work nights, and like to have someone to talk to…
These two men have no higher education than high school, but I have learned so much from them, that I could listen to them again and again.
One had spoken to me about the many people in the world, “who are full of themselves.” This good man recognizes arrogance and narcissism, perferring the simple people who are what they are. He is one of the most generous men I have ever met, although he has suffered in his own life, even physically, at the young age of 42.
A man of kindness for the giant that he is physically, this man is an observer of human nature. And, he thinks like a Catholic, not like a secular, or a Protestant. He admits that he has limited knowledge book-wise, but as a reflective man, like St. Joseph, he ponders the things of God.
The second security man thinks even more like a Catholic. A bit older, at 49, he told me today that no one could be in this world without God considering even each breath that we take. He said that God orders every breath, and is in control of all the details of our lives.
Wisdom and grace have given these insights to this man, who also has shared with me that Americans and the French have something in common, which is why they may be susceptible to violence-the growth of satanic worship. He learned this from some news items garned here and there. This sage also told me that Americans are punished, even by storms and hurricanes, because of their attitutde of independence from God, and their pride.
Thinking like a Catholic, he noted, that God sees all men, rich and poor, alike, as the same in His eyes, and that taking pride in riches is not being Catholic.
I could listen to these men for hours.
Thinking like a Catholic is in the blood, in the culture of the simple and the pure of heart.
Too many Americans think like Protestants, as if material blessings were a sign of holiness, as if work equaled holy merit. It does not.
Here are two men who work for minimum wage standing at the gate of heaven, sharing the truths of 2.000 years of Catholic teaching because they know these things are true.
Grace is given to those who are open to grace, not the worthy, the proud, the educated, the rich.
I hope I can speak with them again and just listen. Perhaps in earlier days, these two men, at the end of Generation X, would have been monks or lay brothers. I can imagine them as such.
God speaks to us daily. All we have to do is listen.
They remind me of a friend of mine who is English, but has in his family a long history of Catholic Irish immigrants. We were, recently, discussing the fact that the Catholic Church is England has become too Anglicanized. What he meant by this is that the Church appeals too much to middle and upper class sensibilities, forgetting the simple life of the immigrants of the past, and their simple piety.
He even told me that some of his Anglican friends have said the English Catholic Church has lost its international flavor and become too Anglican.
I am not home for Christmas, as I rarely am because of God’s Will for my life, but today, I am sitting by men like the shepherds, simple men who have been shown the glory of the Child in Bethlehem, the simple message that God is not only with us constantly, but controls, with our will, every aspect of our lives.
Here in this room is the little stable in Bethlehem.
One more mark of these two men is their intense love for Mary, Our Mother. The one guard told me that “Mary must protect us now.” The other one touches his heart when one says the name of Mary.
Where here is the Mother, there is true brotherhood and sisterhood. Where there is the Mother, there is hope for the world, for the Church.
The one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church is universal. The Church does not belong to one class or national identity but to all men, even to two security guards.
May we never forget this truth, that Christ was born in dire poverty, that He was rejected at the inns by those who were too busy, too distracted to recognize the purity of Mary and the righteousness of Joseph, that those in the fields tending sheep were the first ones to hear and to respond to the call to worship the Incarnate One.
I would rather be in that field, or in the stable, than any where else on Christmas night.