On June 15th the Church celebrates a hidden saint: Saint Germaine Cousin. Born in Pibrac, France in 1579, she grew acquainted with suffering from an early age. To read the story of her life rends the heart. Germaine lost her birth mother at an early age. She grew up with a deformed hand and contracted scrofula at an early age. Scrofula causes swelling and lesions to grow on the skin around lymph nodes, especially around the neck. Because of this disease, her step-mother and father had her live in the barn away from the home while growing up. And, they made her a shepherdess that guarded the family flock in order to keep her isolated and away from the family. She faced abuse as a child, abandonment by those called to care for her, and was falsely accused of stealing from the house. Germaine had every excuse to become a person embittered by life. And, yet, the youth in the area began flocking to her for prayers and guidance. Her demeanor evinced peace, humility, and a quiet joy. Like the Suffering Servant, Jesus, she bore these diseases and mistreatments while at the same time helping the poor, the hungry, and the outcast in the area.
The greatest joy in Germaine’s life became the relationship she fostered with Jesus and Mary. Instead of her solitude crushing her, it became a hermitage wherein she encountered the living God, who loved Germaine and cared for her. She hungered for the Eucharist and would end up leaving her flock to go to Mass after planting her shepherd’s staff into the ground and praying to her Guardian Angel: “This flock is yours to care for until I return.” When she returned, time and again, day after day, she found the flock at rest, bleating about the staff, and none wandered off. Other manifestations of the Holy Spirit and God’s blessing began to bear witness to her relationship with Jesus. During her short life, her prayers began to heal people in the area. Her closeness to Jesus began inspiring others to love Jesus more. When her family saw this they began to change, and finally came to believe it, they invited her to live in the house with them. But, Germaine insisted that she remain in the barn.
So many lessons can be learned from Germaine’s humble witness of faith. Often times, when we think about the heroes and heroines of our faith, we think of the “power-house” saints. We look to intellectual giants like Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, or Teresa of Avila. We see those who founded religious orders like Francis and Claire of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and Benedict. There are kings and queens, princes and princesses, who gave up their wealth to live humble, saintly lives. And, when we look at them, we don’t doubt that God would take notice of them. How could He not? And, then there is Saint Germaine Cousin. She did not study letters at a great university, her friendships were humble and made no impact on the wider church or politics of the day, her charity amounted to little more than giving some of her ration of food away to the hungry. And, yet, her closeness to Jesus and Mary, the availability and freedom she gave to the Holy Spirit to inspire her and guide her, the humility of her prayer and simplicity of life all reveal God’s favor. God saw Germaine Cousin when others turned away. God the Father looked upon Germaine with a paternal affection that did not disdain her littleness or her deformities or her simplicity. The Father saw in Germaine someone who could build His kingdom. And, she did. And, she continues to do just that with Him in Heaven.
When confronting the days ahead, there will be times of distress, worry about the future, and questions about what our country, the world, and the Church will look like ten, twenty or thirty years from now. We may desire that God raise up “power-house” saints to lead the charge and win over the culture and world for Christ. In this we need Germaine. God loves our big desires, but God also loves you and me. Our Heavenly Father sees in you and me, in our littleness, in our relative hiddenness, the very ones who He calls to build His kingdom. If we keep looking for the “big” saints to heal this country, the world, and Church, then we might lose sight of the saint God is calling now: it’s the one looking back at you in the mirror when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning. Ask Germaine Cousin to pray for you, your family, the world and the Church. Ask her to keep you like she kept and guarded her flock. Allow St. Germaine to intercede for you and inspire you to experience the look of the Father’s love. Allow St. Germaine Cousin to draw close to you in your times of solitude, and ask her to teach you and me how to make those times moments of encounter with the living and present God.
Let us pray...
St. Germaine, please pray for my family and me. I want to love Jesus more and to see myself like my Heavenly Father sees me. Help me to see my lack, my problems, and sufferings in light of presence, help, and healing mercy of Jesus Christ. Draw me closer to Jesus in the Eucharist. Help us to know the gift and support of our guardian angels. Help me to see my times of being alone as moments of solitude with the Holy Trinity. St. Germaine, pray for me to see others as our Heavenly Father sees them. Ask our Heavenly Father to bless my family, the world, the Church and me with a renewed awareness and experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence through Jesus Christ. Help us, St. Germaine, to live the Gospel with a fresh zeal, with humble boldness, and with gentle fearlessness. We place our lives, our families, our work, the world and the Church under your care. We honor who Jesus made you and ask you to pray that he sanctify us, too. St. Germain, pray for us. Amen.