Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous abbess

“It is said of a pious abbess, living in our times, that she was once returned to her convent by the authorities, after having been missing for some days. She had been found sitting in the gutters of the worst parts of the city, seemingly a derelict, suffering the abuse of passers-by. Her spiritual daughters, astonished by these circumstances, hastened to ask her for an explanation. She told them: “You, my children, have me to teach you obedience. But I have no one.”

“And so, voluntarily suffering the abuse of others, the holy woman struggled to maintain her humility.”

Some years ago, I read an account of Bishop Geralyn Wolfe who left her home, office, etc and for a while lived as a homeless person. I read a newspaper article.  She has since written a book called Down and Out in Providence: Memoir of a Homeless Bishop by Geralyn Wolf  which I betcha is fascinating as well as distressing to read.  She learned a lot about how the Church fails the most marginalized among us by failing to love them as our neighbors.

The abbess of today’s Saying also chose to leave the comfort of her convent in order to live among the poorest of the poor.  She wanted to be taught obedience. I think she would also have had to learn to accept with humility the humiliations she must have experienced from people. 

People don’t make eye contact, ignoring a person’s existence. People make really rude comments about the homeless, very judgemental. We don’t know why a person is homeless, do we?

I can’t speak for any other country in the world, but here in the USA the church has failed the poor, the homeless most of all. Instead of obeying Jesus’ we turn our backs on His word, finding all manner of excuses for choosing disobedience. We embrace pride rather than humility.

Would that all Christians in the USA were as willing to be identified with the homeless as Bishop Geralyn Wolfe and this nameless abbess.

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