Reproduction of a painting by Ludovico Mazzanti (1686-1775) Wikipedia

Speaking Out: Inspiration from forgetful saint

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • March 31, 2021

Ah, it’s nearly that time of year! As well as experiencing the showers of April and May, college and high school students will navigate a deluge of final essays, exams and capstone projects. Thankfully, there’s a saint we can turn to for intercession to navigate the formidable final six to eight weeks of term.

We often think of saints as perfectly holy people free from fault. But what if I told you there is a saint that struggled with ordinary things just like us. He constantly grappled with controlling his temper, memorizing for exams or keeping his clumsiness in check. It’s true — social outcasts come in the saintly variety too!

St. Joseph of Cupertino was born on June 17, 1603 in Cupertino, Italy. From a young age, his absent-mindedness caused him trouble. Rejected by his family and friendless, even his journey to his vocation was met with tremendous difficulty. He is said to have been so incredibly clumsy — perennially dropping dishes, breaking pots and committing a variety of physical blunders — and socially awkward that he was kicked out of the Capuchin order and outright rejected by the Conventual Franciscan Friars. 

After taking a run at multiple career options, Joseph set off to study as a deacon, and then carried forward to become a priest. He began to focus on living a life of purpose and kindness and was finally allowed into the Franciscan order. But yet another problem arose: St. Joseph not only had a hard time fitting in, he also had an incredibly hard time with school. He was slow to learn and memorization was difficult.

He needed to pass an important exam to graduate. This exam was cumulative of all the concepts he and his classmates studied. He was expected to study everything, and one topic would be chosen at random for discussion during the exam. Only able to commit his memory to a few things, he put his heart and soul into one of the dozens of subjects. When the exam time came, his professor unknowingly asked him the very subject he had studied!

Though I would not suggest the Joseph of Cupertino study technique, his story is a reminder to us: everything is in God’s hands. If God has a plan for us, we can trust that He will not allow any obstacle to stand in our way that we can’t overcome. He only asks us to do our best, He takes care of the rest. It is an easy thing to forget, but this kind of trust in God’s provenance can bring anyone to sainthood.

Joseph went on to become a great saint whose love and devotion to God led to several miraculous events. Several times, he was said to have started levitating when in prayer. Also, throughout his whole life, he would experience visions of religious ecstasy, though critics denounced his levitation as being connected to witchcraft, and investigators expressed doubt over his mystical abilitie. However, I think his critics would have to admit St. Joseph of Cupertino is an ideal saint to turn to during essay and exam season.

(French, 22, has a Bachelor’s of Catholic Studies from Seat of Wisdom College and lives in Barrie, Ont.)

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