“The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10)
A worthy example of saintliness for us to emulate this month is Isidore de Loor who was born in Belgium on April 18, 1881. His parents were Catholic farmers and, as a child, he was usually too sick to help much with the laborious farm work. As a result, he tended more toward prayer and study.
As a teenager, he helped the local pastor teach Catechism to primary grade children. When Isidore was in his early twenties, a Redemptorist missionary, Fr. Bouckaert, gave a mission in Isidore’s village and advised him at that time to enter the Passionist community in a neighboring diocese.
Isidore entered this order which is dedicated to honoring and living the sufferings of Christ and on September 13, 1908, he took perpetual vows as a lay brother. Two years later, Brother Isidore was assigned by his superiors to work at the Passionist monastery near Brussels as a cook, gardener, and porter. He fulfilled his duties quietly and obediently, in a spirit of self-denial, in reparation to and out of love for the Crucified Savior.
In early 1911, a suspected cancer began to grow and Isidore’s headaches became intense. Eventually, he right eye was surgically removed. After this traumatic surgery, Isidore returned to his duties and was re-assigned in 1912 to another nearby monastery with similar duties. Even as cancer continued to grow in him “like a poison,” so did his life of intimate union with God and he became an example of life of religious perfection to his brother Passionists.
By 1916, the cancer had metastasized to his intestines and caused deep, shooting pain. Brother Isidore reminded himself and those ministering to him at this time over and over of his bright goal of eternity by repeating, “Yes, Father, for the sake of paradise! After all paradise, once earned, is earned forever!” With these words on his lips, he passed over into paradise on October 6, 1916.
Because so many remarkable answers to prayer through Brother Isidore’s intercession were obtained subsequent to his death, his Passionist superiors were prompted to begin the cause for his canonization which was completed when Blessed John Paul II beatified him on September 30, 1984.
At his beatification, John Paul II said:
“Blessed Isidore is surely a providential example for our era…of a growing conformity to following the will of our Heavenly Father by following Christ Jesus. Because of his life, he was known as the “Brother of God’s Will” while on earth. In him, we can contemplate the face of the suffering Christ, in whom the infinite love of God is revealed…Stricken with one the most widespread illnesses of our time (cancer), this “Brother of God’s Will” abandoned himself to Christ and prepared himself for death with the same docility with which he had lived, accepting this dramatic trial as an opportunity to conform himself fully to the Redeemer, the object of his love and meditations….Blessed Isidore invites each of us to the feet of Christ, who died for love, exhorting us to unite our toils and sufferings to those of Christ in order to find the path to paradise.” (cf. Salvifici Doloris, 31)
Copyright © 2013, Glenna Bradshaw