Taking back delight, one little levitation at a time

| Liz Kelly | November 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

iStock/LewisTsePuiLung

There is a lovely maple tree in my front yard that hangs onto its leaves longer than any other tree in the neighborhood. It is a fiery orange and red and every bit as beautiful as you might imagine and always an occasion to lift one’s spirits. Long after every other leaf on my block has been raked and bagged, my front yard maple holds fast, clinging to its beauty with unrelenting delight.

My maple teaches me something. I do not want to be determined by the dominant trends around me — I want to cling to beauty and the Author of it. While the cultural posture currently leans toward cynicism, negativity and secular distortions, I want to take back my delight — in the Lord, and in his gift of life.

And I’m asking St. Joseph of Cupertino — a master of reverie — to help me.

Born in Italy in 1603, Joseph entered the world impoverished and mostly unwanted. His widowed mother treated him severely and rejected him as a nuisance. As he wandered the village, sometimes open-mouthed and aimless, he earned the nickname “The Gaper.”

Joseph struggled as a young man. His absentmindedness made him a poor worker and his frustration was sometimes expressed in temper tantrums. Eventually, Joseph joined the Franciscans as a servant, and they put him to work in the stables. There, in the quiet company of a barn full of farm-beasts, Joseph began to change and to find his way to a remarkable purity of heart.

His work with the animals not only appears to have altered his temperament, giving him a greater sweetness and humility, but it also appears to have acted as the gateway to a lifetime of ecstasies and miracles of healing. Any reference to God or the mysteries of religion would catch Joseph up into such profound contemplation he would lose his bearings with the world around him.

In one of the more noted stories of his life, the sight of a lamb is said to have caught Joseph up into so pure a contemplation of the spotless Lamb of God that he was physically carried into the air with the lamb still in his arms. In another well-authenticated instance, his fellow religious saw him fly up 7 feet into the air to kiss the statue of the infant Jesus that stood over the altar. They then watched as he gathered the statue in his arms and floated away with it to his cell. Joseph’s levitations were documented on more than 70 occasions.

But it wasn’t an easy gift to possess. He was often considered an outcast and oddity. He was even the focus of several inquisitions, one that led to the chambers of Pope Urban VIII himself. But upon sight of the Vicar of Christ, Joseph fell into ecstasy and Urban declared that he would offer testimony to the experience.

I think Joseph would love my maple tree; he understands beautiful oddities. Though there will never be an inquisition over me, and my feet will likely never leave the ground on account of spiritual ecstasy, in the ways I am able, I want to be an oddity just as Joseph was — with delight in God so pure and childlike, it cannot be contained.

St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us. The world would like to crush our delight and keep our spiritual feet on the ground. Help us to embrace greater purity of heart and a deep, abiding delight in the Lord that our souls would soar, ever savoring the goodness of our Creator.

Kelly is the author of the award-winning “Jesus Approaches” and the“Your Heart, His Home Prayer Companion.” Read more about St. Joseph of Cupertino, patron saint of air travelers, on her website, lizk.org.

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Category: Your Heart His Home