Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

St. Conrad of Parzham: the Holy Porter

On the edge of the Rott Valley in Lower Bavarria was a German-Christian family, fourteen strong.  Of the twelve is John Birndorfer, the second youngest of the bunch.  John, now known as Saint Conrad of Parzham, was born on December 22, 1818 and was the first German saint to be canonized after the reformation.  At a young age he experienced his share of trials and sufferings within his family and the Catholic Church. Both his parents suffered from the Napoleonic Wars, his mother died at the age of fourteen and the Church at that time was becoming more and more secularized. Germany was losing its Catholic identity, seventeen Catholic Universities had been shut down and twenty-two dioceses in the country were reduced to just five. 

                Still in the midst of all this chaos, John remembered the strong teachings handed down from his mother. He prayed rosaries, attended confession and received communion as often as possible. Soon there came a point when he was discerning religious life. To his surprise, his confessor told him to visit the Capuchins saying, “That’s where you belong.” Thirty-one years into his life, John taking the name Conrad, went through the same doors that he would be opening for the rest of his life. On October 4, 1852, the feast of Saint Francis, Conrad professed and consecrated his whole life to God and the Capuchin Order, thus entering fully into the Order. Saint Conrad was assigned Porter for the friary. For forty-one years Saint Conrad was faithful to his duty as a Capuchin brother, he remained calm and patient with everyone he received.  He opened not only the door of the friary, but also the door of his heart to everyone he met. Saint Conrad came into contact with so many people that he was able to experience the glory and misery of the world. Often getting up early, sometimes two or three in the morning, he would open the door to children and mothers, the poor and the homeless, the hungry, the sick and even the unemployed. He was opening the door to Christ in his own eyes and because of that he gave his heart with compassion to everyone.

As we celebrate the life of Saint Conrad of Parzham, I think we can gather a few things when it comes to being a doorkeeper of our own hearts in relationship with Christ our Savior. As Conrad was faithful to his work, he opened the door for many; he opened the door for the weak. We hear in the gospels that Christ himself dwells in those people! 

"Truly I tell you, Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matt 25:40

The call for us is to open the door of our hearts, to let Christ enter for a dwelling but also, so that He can change and renew us from the inside. The effect of this is that we remain always with the Father and the Father in us.  

The call for us is also to greet the Lord, to give him our attention and undivided hearts. Just like Saint Conrad, always listening and never growing tired of his ministry, when we greet the Lord we are turning our hearts to Him with a desire to listen to what might be said and of course, with a willingness to speak! Let us greet the Lord.

I think that lastly, the final message from the holy porter is to see the Lord. See the Lord in the world despite the violence and chaos. Find glory in the weaknesses of the world.  Saint Conrad found Christ in each and every person he opened the door to. He sought the Lord in Heart, mind and soul by opening the door of his heart. 

Saint Conrad of Parzham, Pray for us
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