Suffering with and for Christ (Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa)
Whenever the Church proclaims someone as saint or blessed, certain questions come to mind: What is the life story of this person? Who were those that inspired him or her to live the Christian life to the full? What were the challenges and difficulties that he or she faced that became instrumental to this quest for holiness? Were there some mystical or miraculous events that happened to his or her life or that occurred because of him or her? Why did he or she not give up? How did God become the center of his or her life? The list of questions can go on and on. This is because we, as Christians, and Catholics at that, would like to know more those who are recognized by the Church in order to draw inspiration and ask their intercession. All of us are also called to a life of holiness and their lives can be of help to lead us towards that path.
Today we celebrate the memory of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa. She was born on March 30, 1904 in Portugal. She received a solid Christian education from her mother and her sister. Alexandrina possessed a lively, well-mannered nature that made her likeable to everyone. Her unusual physical strength and stamina also enabled her to do long hours of heavy farm work in the fields, thus helping the family income. When she was 12, Alexandrina became sick with an infection and nearly died; the consequences of this infection would remain with her as she grew up. At 14 she leaped from the window into the garden at home, to save her purity threatened by some ill-intentioned men. Five years later, the injuries resulting from the fall became total paralysis, which forced her to bed for over 30 years.
“I am happy, because I am going to Heaven.”Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa
The Salesian charism lived as victim, which developed with Fr Beltrami, Fr Czartoryski, Fr Variara and Sister Eusebia, also inspired Alexandrina. She offered herself as a victim to Christ for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world: “I have no other purpose than to give glory to God and save souls.” From March 1942 to her death, 13 years and 7 months, she no longer took any food or drink whatsoever, apart from daily communion, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos. This unexplainable fact was scientifically verified by several doctors. She was a great mystic–in continuous union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. A Salesian priest, Fr Umberto Pasquale, was her spiritual director during those trying times in her life. Alexandrina became a Salesian Cooperator and offered her suffering for the salvation of souls and for the sanctification of youth. She kept a lively interest in the poor as well as in the spiritual health of those who sought out her counsel. Alexandrina died on October 13, 1955. Her last words: “I am happy, because I am going to Heaven”. She was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2004.
Brothers and sisters, Lumen Gentium, declared that “in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness.” Therefore, each Christian is invited to a life of sanctity patterned after the life of Christ. I can just imagine: our churches will be filled with statues and images of saints and blessed who have lived their life for the Lord to the end. Who knows some of us will be declared saints in the future. Like Blessed Alexandrina, may we offer our life for those entrusted to our care, the young people, and for the whole world especially in this time of the pandemic. Let us take this challenge earnestly as we professed to live our baptismal promises deeply and fully. We also pray for all Salesian Cooperators around the world that they may live up to their mission in the Church and in the world today.
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