I peered across the playground, shielding my eyes from the blazing Arizona sun. Laughter emerged from a group of children as they ran playfully through the warm sand. Sweat trickled down my neck as I stood awkwardly and ran my hands through my wild dark-brown curls.
I was in third grade.
Tall for my age, with knobby knees, and gangly limbs.
It was my first day of school.
My first day in a town that was vastly different from the ones I had known before. I did not know a single person, other than the kind principal, who smiled at me behind her bright red reading glasses, and led me to the edge of the playground.
Searching for Someone
After she briskly walked away, her heels clicking melodiously on the cement, I remained frozen in place searching for something, anything, that seemed familiar. Searching for a face that would bring comfort. Searching for a friend. Desperately praying for someone to come and talk to me. Someone to take my hand and lead me into the joy I was witnessing all around me. Someone to point me in the right direction. Someone to teach me the ropes and introduce me to this new place.
When I had nearly given up, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a small girl with a wide smile holding a plastic pink jump-rope. She would come to be my dearest friend during a time when forming friendships would prove quite difficult.
I am forever thankful that she sought me out. Forever thankful that the Lord placed it in her little heart to befriend the girl who looked lost and alone.
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Surprise Saintly Friends
As I have grown older, I have been blessed to see how the Lord brings into our life exactly the friend we need.
God does this in an especially beautiful way with the Saints. Our heavenly friends accompany us on this earthly journey, interceding for us and encouraging us through their stories. Helping us to see God’s glory in our own stories. Ordinary people who said yes to the extraordinary grace lavished upon them by Christ in His great unfathomable mercy. People who had faults, sufferings, and triumphs, and joys. People who were priests, religious, mothers, fathers, and children. People who were poor, rich, and everything in between.
Saints, who when we search through their stories, we will find bits and pieces of our own. Places of grace where God has loved us and redeemed us.
Sometimes they seek us, and other times we stumble upon them in unexpected ways. It was in one of those unforeseen moments that I came to know Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo.
Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo
She was born in Madagascar and was baptized a Catholic when she was fifteen, even though her family opposed it. Blessed Victoire encouraged and protected her fellow Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ during a time when the Church was being persecuted. Through her courageous gift of self, she kept schools and churches open and brought back missionaries who had been forced to leave.
Amid tremendous suffering and uncertainty, Blessed Victoire remained faithful, spending hours in prayer each day and boldly proclaiming the Faith to those who needed to be inspired. Her heart was fixed on Christ. Through unimaginable pain and rejection, she remained rooted in prayer.
The Best Prayer Partner
I was in awe as I read her story. My heart was immediately moved by her dedication to prayer because I was in a place where I had no desire to pray. I was fatigued after a long year of suffering. Prayer felt forced and empty. I was becoming increasingly discouraged and burdened, as I searched desperately for something, anything that would bring me back to a place of peace.
When I learned of her, she was like a new friend, lightly tapping me on the shoulder, and leading me back into joy. She was the friend I needed. I’ll admit, while fascinated with her life it took me a while to get to know her. I was much like the third-grade version of myself, standing awkwardly off to the side, just waiting. Captivated by her story, but unsure how I could relate to her. Unsure where the place of grace would be, until one day as I was having difficulty praying, I remembered how she spent hours in prayer and I asked for her intercession. Peace flooded my heart, and I felt inspired. The weariness that had settled into my heart began to lift.
Phone a Friend Like You
If you are struggling with prayer, I encourage you to become friends with Blessed Victoire. Ask for her intercession. Our heavenly friends desire to see us rejoicing with the Lord, desire to see us grow in holiness, desire to meet us and show us how to navigate this life. And I have found that they come to our aid in the most beautiful ways. Go to them. Allow them to be like a friend who gently takes your hand and leads you in the right direction, closer and closer to Jesus.
To learn more about Blessed Victoire and 11 other holy women from different continents and walks of life, check out Misericordia!
This study guide is perfect for your small group for twelve sessions.