I’d like to introduce you to a woman who has been inspirational to my wife and I: Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty.
My wife first got to know her by visiting Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. Madonna House is an apostolate with the simple mission of hospitality, to welcome people with the love of the Holy Family. Some people go there because they just need some time away, some because they have been hurt in one way or another and need time to heal.
Catherine Doherty led a long and amazing life, being born in Russia to devout Russian Orthodox parents and then emigrating from there to Canada (by way of England) after the October Revolution. Around that time she converted to the Catholic Church.
Feeling called to serve Christ in others, she began something called Friendship House. First in Toronto, then in Harlem, the doors of Friendship House were painted blue in honor of our Lady, and every person who passed through them received a blessing from God through Mary’s intercession. She stood in solidarity with the poor and fought for justice for the Black community.
Along the way, she met Dorothy Day and a young Thomas Merton, who one day walked through the blue door of Friendship House. He was intelligent, energetic, and very unsure of what he should do. After several steak dinners, something Catherine rarely enjoyed since she made a promise of living in poverty, she challenged Merton to stop talking and start doing something, beginning by joining her apostolate. Merton was galvanized into action and went on to have a prolific life, if not one without controversy.
This is all well and good, and hopefully interesting to you. But I have sketched this background on Doherty to recommend two books to you this Advent. The first is Donkey Bells, a series of meditations and reflections on the seasons of Advent and Christmas. My wife and I read a reflection together each evening. The second is Not Without Parables, which includes beautiful stories of her Russian Orthodox childhood and the tradition of pilgrimages which was deeply ingrained in the Russian culture of her day. It also recounts miraculous stories of Friendship House and the people who came through Mary’s blue door there.
Catherine Doherty experienced a lot of life. Much of of it was painful and difficult, yet through it her spirit of humility and Christ-like love shined brightly. Treat yourself and your family to some of her work this Advent and Christmas. And if you know someone who is in need of healing, tell them to consider visiting Madonna House in Combermere, or one of the daughter houses in the U.S. and around the world.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Devin-Rose.png[/author_image] [author_info]Devin Rose is a Catholic writer and lay apologist. After his conversion from atheism to Protestant Christianity in college, he set out to discover where the fullness of the truth of Jesus Christ could be found. His search led him to the Catholic Church. He blogs at St. Joseph’s Vanguard and has released his first book titled “If Protestantism Is True.” He has written articles for Catholic News Agency, Fathers for Good, Called to Communion, and has appeared on EWTN discussing Catholic-Protestant topics.[/author_info] [/author]