The Darkness Around You
If you pour yourself out for the hungry,
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
~ Isaiah 58:10
“Elizabeth was a lifelong friend of the poor and gave herself entirely to relieving the hungry. She converted her house in Los Angeles into a hospice in which she sheltered many of the weak and feeble. She generously gave money to all who were in need, not only in her home town of Fresno but all over the state. She spent all her own income from her husband’s four trust funds, and finally she sold her Mercedes limousine and other expensive possessions for the sake of the poor.
Twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, Elizabeth went to visit the sick, at home or in the hospital. She personally cared for those who were particularly repulsive; to some she gave food, to others clothing; some she drove around in her own car, and performed many other services for them. Her husband, whom we all remember fondly, happily approved of these charitable works. Finally, when her husband died, she began to go from door to door, asking for money for her charitable endeavors.
On Good Friday of that year, she stood up in the local church she attended in her home town, and before the congregation renounced all worldly display and everything that Christ in the gospels advises us to abandon. Even then she saw that she could still be distracted by the cares and worldly praise which had surrounded her while her husband was alive. Against my will she followed me to Bakersfield. Here, too, she built a shelter where she gathered together the weak and the feeble. She would feed and serve the most wretched people who came to her at her own table.
Apart from those active good works, I declare before God that I have seldom seen a more contemplative woman.
Before her death last year, I asked what should be done about her goods and possessions; she asked me to draw up a will for her, leaving anything which seemed to be hers to the poor. She asked me to distribute everything except one worn-out dress in which she wished to be buried. When all this had been decided, she prayed and spoke of the most meaningful sermons she had heard in her life. Then, she commended to God all who were sitting near her, and as if falling into a gentle sleep, she died.”
Okay, I cheated a little bit. I rewrote this section of a letter, originally written by “Conrad of Marburg,” so that it would sound modern-day, and I changed the German locations to California. What would we think if we knew such a person, or even heard of her?
The woman died in Germany in 1231 AD. She was eventually canonized Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer