A Living Light

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Sacred Scripture abounds with uplifting accounts of holy women, such as Hannah, the persevering mother of Samuel; Elizabeth, the faithful mother of John the Baptist; and especially the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word made Man.

In the examples mentioned, especially in Our Lady, holiness was inseparable from motherhood. By her unconditional yes to the angelic appeal, the Mother of God became the dawn of the Redemption of the human race. And at the foot of the Cross, from her emanated Marian graces for all her children, represented in the person of John: “Behold your Mother” (Jn 19:27). The archetypal Mother was united to her Son, until “there was darkness over the whole land” (Lk 23:44).

In this “maternal vein” of history, the personal mission of mothers is inseparable from that of their children. St. Monica’s case is notable in relation to St. Augustine, but also Mamma Margherita, the beloved mother of St. John Bosco, whose call continued until after her death. Once, by a miracle, she revealed herself post-mortem to the holy priest, who asked her: “But aren’t you dead?” She replied: “I’m dead, but I’m alive.” Indeed, holy souls never die…

Dona Lucilia Corrêa de Oliveira was also an example of a mother, or better, of a “devoted mother” – as she defined herself – starting from her difficult pregnancy with little Plinio. When urged by a doctor to have an abortion, she promptly rejected the absurd suggestion: “That is not a question you ask a mother!”

In her maternal mission, she lived up to the etymology of her name: she was a true “light” for her son Plinio, above all for the diligent religious formation she gave him. On several occasions he would recall with nostalgia: “Mother taught me to love the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Without this maternal example, not only would Dr. Plinio’s vocation have been obliterated, but also that of his followers. Without exaggeration, not even this magazine would exist…

Many, in turn, tried to extinguish Lucilia’s “light”. The decadent world after the communist revolution, and even more so after the Second World War, clashed with her traditionally Catholic mentality. Because of her fidelity to the Church, she was ostracized even by certain family members, but she always stood firm, like – mutatis mutandis – Mary Most Holy at the foot of the Cross.

In the biography of Dona Lucilia written by the founder of the Heralds, Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, most recently published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 2013, several remarkable episodes of her contrasting life are recounted. In it, as the following pages illustrate, you will find the typically Brazilian placidity combined with zeal and dedication, compassion combined with a spirit of justice, sweetness radiating amid the obscurity of a selfless life.

Moreover, like Mamma Margherita, Dona Lucilia also “lives on” even after death. And this is true today more than ever. The testimonies of graces and favours obtained through her, from the most ordinary to the most improbable, already make up a large collection of “signs”, which the Church would call fama signorum.

It is up to the Mystical Bride of Christ to infallibly determine who does or does not deserve to be recognized with the halo of sainthood. However, the Paraclete wastes no time: He always works in the “depths of the hearts of His faithful,” as the Veni Sancte Spiritus prays, to point out the “living lights” present in this world immersed in darkness. And darkness can never prevail in the face of such luminosity (cf. Jn 1:5)… ◊

Taken from the Heralds of the Gospel magazine, #198.

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