In his reflection, posted on 18 March, Stefan Gigacz shared with us the story of Blessed Marcel Callo (1921-1945), a leader in the YCW. What impressed me about Blessed Marcel was how he treasured his relationship with Christ, which he shared with others, an intentional faith shared courageously. He came to realise that it was his mission to bring out the best in those who suffered with him in the concentration camp in Mauthausen.
Fr Joseph Cardijn spent his adult life training young workers to be leaders who would seek to transform their fellow workers and their families. In his Keynote Address to the World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, held in Rome, 1951, which he titled “The world today and the apostolate of the laity,” Cardijn spoke about “the consciousness of, and will for, solidarity and interdependence in the world of workers themselves who become more numerous every day.”
Repressive regimes, such as that established by the Nazis, set out to destroy the creative energy and spirit of those who seek to unite and celebrate all that is good in life and in the world. Ultimately, the oppressors fail because of the solidarity of those who live to give glory to the Creator. The life of Blessed Marcel gives testimony to the truth of this view. The oppressors failed to crush his spirit.
I was taught at an early age that faith without actions is useless (James 2:20). Being arrested for being “too Catholic” did not deter Blessed Marcel from continuing to give witness to his faith through how he lived his life, especially in captivity. The Gospel reading for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent presents Jesus’ teaching about faith in action promises eternal life (John 5:31-47). By his word and his example, Blessed Marcel demonstrated his commitment to the transformation of those he worked with in the concentration camp. And that transformation was accomplished through simple activities that united people in faith and in comradeship. None was more precious to him and his comrades than the celebration of the Eucharist.
The transformation sought by Cardijn and the young leaders in the YCW, was made possible through faith. In that concentration camp and wherever leaders committed themselves to following Christ, the actions built on faith brought together the temporal and the eternal: it was a foretaste of their destiny. How can this be achieved in our present age? Which actions bring heaven to earth? Which actions “reach out ahead” and pull the future into the present so that both are experienced simultaneously?
Like every saint before him, Blessed Marcel Callo drew on his faith in Christ for the strength he needed to draw people together and in the midst of the suffering that they shared, he involved them in creating pockets of happiness that enfolded them like shields of love. Small actions carried out in response to the signs of the times come from recognising and rejoicing in the presence of God in what is celebrated, or what is endured. Such actions may seem trivial, but they carry within their execution the seeds of transformation. They are the work of God carried out by those who seek to be God’s instruments of salvation.
Read more …
Biography of Blessed Marcel Callo (1921-1945)
Readings for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent