Thought for the Day – 15 March – The Memorial of St Clement Mary Hofbauer C.Ss.R.(1751-1820) “The Apostle of Austria” and “The Second Founder of the Redemptorists”
Among the passengers sharing a coach with Father Hofbauer on one occasion was a young man who was described as being infirm both in body and soul. Possibly embittered by his unfortunate physical state, the young man continually heaped coarse insults upon the holy priest, who endured the vulgarity in silence. At noon, when the coach drew up at an inn, all the other passengers disembarked to dine, giving no thought or concern for the crude cripple left behind. Hofbauer lifted the man in his arms, carried him into the inn, ordered his meal, then carried him back to the coach. The man’s behaviour toward the saint was totally changed for the rest of the trip. Filled with sorrow for his meanness, he declared that he would never have sunk to such moral degradation had he met such a priest earlier in life.
A Polish countess who had frequented St Benno’s reminisced in after years: “Whenever I recall him, I see him before me as a venerable priest, refined and awe inspiring in his deportment but withal very plain. Wherever he went, he radiated the beauty of peace and spread about him the consolation that springs from divine love. His language was always simple, he never made use of choice expressions. Still, his words always manifested great depth of mind and invariably awakened immediate confidence. The love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which filled his heart, shone forth in all his actions but there was about him no trace of singularity or affectation. Purity of soul, peace of heart, the radiance of that holy joy which is born of the intimate union of man with his Maker, beamed from his countenance. The Holy Spirit had bestowed upon him a special talent for directing souls in the ways of virtue and holiness and he toiled on with unrelenting fervour, granting himself no rest or respite until his physical energy was exhausted.”
He was unrelenting in pursuing souls cut off from the life of grace, especially those facing imminent death. A nun entered the church one day and found Father Hofbauer kneeling before the altar. Unobserved by the saint, she saw his cheeks wet with tears as he pleaded for the conversion of some sinner outside the fold.
“Lord,” he begged, “give me this soul, for if Thou refuse, I shall go to Thy Mother!” The nun was so deeply affected by this scene that she immediately knelt before an image of the Blessed Virgin and united her own prayers to those of Hofbauer’s.
Even a tiny grain of imitation of this great Redemptorist Saint would be a huge impetus on our own road to holiness!