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Saint Maria Crescencia Hoss
(entered heaven on Easter, 1744)
I think your diagnosis is a bit off. Your “depression and anxiety” may have many different causes. Without a doubt, however, judging by the updates you have been sending me, one of them is your vanity. Vanity is a terrible thing. It puts your self-esteem at the mercy of other people’s superficial, unpredictable, unsubstantial, and fickle opinions (“What will they think of me if…?”). If your sense of self-worth is dependent on something as undependable as that, it’s no wonder you are so given to depression and anxiety. This is where prayer and spiritual reading comes in. You have to strengthen your deep-seated Christian convictions. Your life is important and meaningful not because of popularity or membership in a sorority or a stellar report card or any other super-achievements, but because of Christ and his love for you. Go back to that. Make it your anchor, just as today’s saint did.
She was born in Bavaria, today’s southern Germany, the seventh of eight children. At an early age she felt a call to give her life completely to Jesus. But her family was poor. She had no dowry, and entrance into convents in those days required dowries (just as marriage did). The superiors refused to admit her. But she persisted in her efforts. Finally, the town’s mayor (who was actually a Protestant), came to her defense and convinced the superiors of the convent to let Maria join their community.
You can imagine how they welcomed her – not at all. She was ostracized, made fun of, given the worst jobs, and otherwise maltreated. It would have been easier for her to give up. But she knew Jesus wanted here there, and she wanted only to please him. So she was able to endure her sisters’ mistreatment. Not only that, but she actually took advantage of it to grow in intimacy with Christ, finding more and more comfort in his love, because precarious human comforts were less and less available. She responded to abuse with patience, and to disdain with kindness, year after year.
Eventually, the other nuns realized that even if she hadn’t brought a monetary dowry into the convent, she had brought a spiritual one: holiness. They began to respect and revere her, and eventually she was even elected superior of the community – a position that she was forced to accept against her will. But she carried it out with wisdom and love, unruffled by the rumors, the gossip, and the criticism that so often go along with positions of authority. All because she had learned to live seeking first to please God, not popular opinion.
There is a lesson in that for you, my sensitive niece. I will pray that you learn it well, for your sake and for the sake of those souls Christ wants to touch through you.
Your loving uncle,