Prayer for the Marginal in Society

December 22, 1996
Brother John Raymond

	St. Joseph was a carpenter. In the eyes of his contemporaries
 such work would not be something to brag about, neither would the
 pay. Poor Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem for the
 census commanded by Ceasar hardly would be noticed among the
 travellers on the road. A horse was a sign of power and authority.
 Mary was seated on a donkey.
	Upon arrival in Bethlehem this meek and humble couple were
 rejected by the inns they inquired at for lodging. There was no room
 for them. Perhaps, even in those days, a little extra money could
 have made room. Apparently an expectant mother was not a good enough
 reason for the inn keeper to make an exception. So Mary and Joseph
 ended up in a cave. The Son of God Who became man in order to save
 all was born in a cave. Their world saw no value in this poor couple
 or in their Child. Abandoned at birth He would be abandoned in
 death. Not long after His birth Herod would seek Jesus' death. Has
 the world changed? No, not very much. Babies in the womb are killed
 because they are an inconvenience. The inn is full. The child isn't
 important__so some people think.
	Our society judges people based on their usefulness. Children in
 the womb, the elderly, the sick and the mentally-handicapped or
 physically-handicapped are a burden to society, some say. Why keep
 them around? Some have said this about monks.
	In the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts lives Audrey Santo.
 She has been in a coma for nearly a decade. At three years old she
 fell into the family swimming pool and was found floating face down.
 She was rushed to the hospital. After some time there the parents
 were advised to put their daughter in an institution. The mother
 refused. Audrey was coming home! The family and some visiting nurses
 all pitched in to take care of the little girl. This was no easy
 task. Audrey's mother was allowed to have the Blessed Sacrament in a
 tabernacle in Audrey's room. Priests and even the retired bishop of
 Worcester, Bernard Flanagan came to celebrate Holy Mass there.
 Audrey's swimming accident had been well publicized in the
 newspapers and the media followed her progress. People came to see
 her and pray at her bedside.
	Many would say that a life like Audrey's is not worth living. But
 the decade of her comatose life has been filled with many blessings
 both for her family, the diocese and people from all over the world.
 Unexplainably, this bedridden child has been surrounded by reported
 miracles and mystical phenomena. Although Audrey is unable to speak
 or move, these mysterious events have drawn thousands of visitors to
 her home. The family garage had to be turned into a chapel to
 accomodate them. ("Audrey's Life: Voice of a Silent Soul," $24.95 +
 $1.50 S&H, is an excellent video for those interested in learning
 about this amazing child. To order: The Monks of Adoration,
 2241 Englewood Road, Englewood, FL 34223.)
	Christmas is about those like Audrey. It is about those who are
 identified with Jesus in His abandonment and helplessness. This
 Christmas, why not do something different? Visit or open up your
 home to these people and you will be welcoming the Baby Jesus in


	Father, we look forward to Christmas day when we will be filled
 with new light by the coming of Your Word among us. May the light of
 faith shine in our words and actions. May we welcome Your Son in
 those around us, especially in the helpless, poor, abandoned and
 outcasts of our society. Bring our country and the world to an ever
 greater awareness of the value of human life. We ask You to grant
 this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns
 with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.