Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blessed Helen of Udine (1396 to April 23, 1458)

  While I was enjoying a drink at a crowded Christmas caroling party tonight, a friend quietly told me for the past 30 or so years she's been a spiritualist. Intrigued by what that meant, I asked her a few questions then later did my own research into it.
  Some of the principles are a belief in spirit communication, that the soul lives on after the physical body dies, and that after death it's possible for the soul to learn and improve. (I thought lessons were learned in this life and the choices we make while alive determine how long we wait in purgatory.)
  Further, my friend, who's a gifted artist and intelligent woman, told me she was a medium and used to attend a Spiritualist Church where seances are held. It's for people who are intuitive and want to communicate with the dead.
  I'm intuitive and I wish I knew where my dead relatives were, but that wouldn't make me a Spiritualist or want to join such a church. Still, I'm interested in what type of people are drawn to the concept.
  And, personally, I don't think it sounds any stranger that the behavior of  Blessed Helen of Udine. She was born Helen Valentini in Italy in 1396 and was so in love with her husband that when he died unexpectedly after 27 years of marriage, she cut off all her hair and buried it along with her best jewelry in her husband's grave.
  Blessed Helen of Udine, a widowed mother of six, became a Augustinian tertiary performing charitable deeds. Then, she took a vow of silence and would only speak once a year on Christmas night. She had ecstatic trances brought on by a battle with worldy temptation.
  For the last three years of her life, Blessed Helen of Udine was confined (by her wishes) to a bed of stone and straw.
  Many people would think she sounds a bit eccentric or crazy, so why would my belief in saints such as Blessed Helen of Udine, sound more normal than a Spiritualist's belief in communication with the dead? In fact, it doesn't.
  We may "try" different religions as we go through life and, after coming full circle, we are drawn to the one that feels most comfortable. Whether or not we attend a Mass or service, truly doesn't matter. It's how we conduct our lives and treat others that counts.
  Blessed Helen of Udine, who had the gift of healing, died on April 23, 1458. She was beatified in 1848 (that's a long time to be waiting for sainthood) and her feast day is April 23.

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