Saint Paschal Baylon
Towards the end of his teenage years, Saint Paschal Baylon began investigating various religious orders, mostly Franciscans.
One of the communities of the Friars Minor he thought about was the Alcantarines, which had been founded by St. Peter of Alcantara, a Spanish Franciscan. Earlier in his life, St. Peter had been very influential on the life of St. Teresa of Avila.
Saint Paschal Baylon helped her put into action, her reform of the Carmelite Order in Spain, which became the Discalced Carmelites.
While St. Peter gave much to St. Teresa during her most difficult times, he also learned much from her, with regard to reforming his own order, the Friars Minor, whom he believed had lost the vision which St. Francis and St. Clare had fought for most of their lives.
St. Peter started a community of Franciscans. which became later known as Alcantarines, after St. Peter of Alcanatara.
It was austere.
If it had been possible, it would have been more austere than the original rule of St. Francis of Assisi, and later, the Poor Ladies of St. Clare of Assisi, but nothing could have been more austere than those two communities.
This brotherhood of St. Peter of Alcantara, who was alive when Paschal first visited them, was about as severe as you could get. The only thing harsher than the rule itself was how the Friars tried to outdo each other in forms of penance and mortification. It was a one-upmanship society.
One had to outdo the other.
We pray it was all for the glory of God, rather than the pride of accomplishment, practicing the harshest penances and fasts possible. Paschal visited the community as a come-and-see candidate. He was about eighteen at the time. The brothers sized him up and determined he did not have what it would take to live this reform Franciscan rule. They rejected Paschal.
Perhaps this was good for young Saint Paschal Baylon. He became determined that he was going to be accepted into that religious group. For the next six years, he prepared himself, both physically and spiritually, so that when the time came, after he reached his twenty-fourth birthday and was released from his responsibility of being a shepherd for the family, he went back to the Alcantarines with renewed vigor.
Saint Pascal Baylon knew he was going to get in. It was like working toward getting an A+ on a test; if you're that type of person, you'll do whatever it takes to get the very best test results. And so at age twenty-four, he came back and was accepted into the community of St. Peter of Alcantara.
It did not take very long for the Franciscans of the Alcantarine reform to realize what a jewel they had in Paschal. He was truly a special person.
They may not have actually known he was a Saint at the beginning; but after witnessing his behavior from the day he arrived at the monastery, his wellspring of virtues which sprang forth, they began to perceive the Saint in their midst. He excelled in possessing and practicing every virtuous quality known to the brothers at the time he entered the monastery.
For Saint Paschal Baylon, he had arrived home.
This was where the Lord wanted him to be, to shine, to set forth example for the other brothers, which they could then project to everyone with whom they came in contact. He was almost immediately made the doorkeeper.
We have had some extremely powerful Saints and Blesseds who have attended the doors of monasteries and convents, waiting to welcome souls into their midst. Just to name a few, St. Bernadette of Lourdes was a doorkeeper, as was Blessed Sister Faustina and St. Martin de Porres, as well as Blessed Brother Andre of Montreal. There were many doorkeepers who have lined the halls of the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Saints made it an opportunity to bring the love of Jesus and Mary, all the Angels and Saints to everyone with whom they came in contact. Very often, the doorkeeper was the first impression one had of the community.
He was a stickler for propriety. No one was above the rules of the Church. An example of this happened when he was doorkeeper. Some women came to ask the father guardian of the monastery to hear their confessions. Paschal told his superior, who then ordered him to tell the women that he was not there, but had gone out.
Saint Paschal Baylon said he could not do that; instead he replied. "I will tell them that you are engaged in important matters." The superior corrected him, "No, tell them that I am not at home." Paschal rose to his full height and spoke very low but definite. "Forgive me, Father, I must not say that, for that would not be the truth and would be a venial sin." Then he returned to his post at the door. It's not stated exactly, but we believe the father guardian came down and heard the women's confessions.
Paschal had a great love for the poor, the indigent and downtrodden. He did whatever he could, whenever he could to have special treats to give them. For himself, he asked virtually nothing, but he believed it was his responsibility to make the lives of the suffering as comfortable as possible, under the circumstances of their lives. He would pull all kinds of little tricks to get them a little something extra in the way of sweets, or dainty morsels.
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