On November 11, we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours, often remembered for giving half of his cloak to a poor beggar. Though mocked for this act of charity, Martin later received a vision from Christ saying it was He himself whom Martin helped. The figure in this vision was wearing the cloak Martin had given away.
Though he was a great bishop, Martin became one reluctantly. After an early life of military service, a remarkable conversion after the encounter with the beggar and the Lord, and a brief stint as a hermit, he eventually established a monastery in Liguge – still active to this day. People were so drawn to his holiness, that he had no choice but to guide them and live with them in community.
His deep love of the poor and needy compelled him to respond when a man in the city of Tours requested Martin to come pray for his sick wife. Upon entering the city, Martin was met by the residents who brought him to the local church to be consecrated as their bishop.
He allowed the consecration to move forward and served his remaining years with the same faithfulness and piety as in the years before. Even at the end of his life, his prayer was, “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.”
St. Martin’s life can be seen as a metaphor for our own spiritual lives and also for our pilgrimage experiences. We may not always want to do what we are called to do, and we may sometimes be faced with circumstances beyond our control. But it is what we do with these circumstances that can lead us to greater holiness and a deeper relationship with God.
Flight delay? Use the time to speak with your fellow pilgrims or pray for the journey ahead.
Itinerary changes? Perhaps the Lord has something He wants to show you in that particular place and time that would have been missed if you were elsewhere.
The food is different or doesn’t taste good to you? Give thanks for what you will return to at home.
Fellow pilgrims getting on your nerves? Offer it up and pray for their sanctification.
Any other surprises that may come up? Ask the Lord what His purpose is for you in that moment.
May we all follow St. Martin’s example of being open to the will of God, even when things don’t go the way we planned.