We could all benefit from finding true Catholic role models and who better than the saints? As part of my mission for the year, I wanted to look to the saints not with the usual approach of asking for intercession, but with taking some aspect of their life as guidance for how we could live our lives. So for June I picked St. Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople.
He was named the “Father of the Poor” and it is easy to see why. First, he dedicated his entire life to those who were poverty stricken and unable to afford medical care. Trained as a physician, he never charged his patients. Throughout his life—and even after he died—he performed miraculous healings.
He disposed of his wealth in order to serve the poor. When his parents passed on, he spent his inheritance, giving alms to the poor. Emperor Justinian offered a large sum as recompense when Sampson performed a miraculous healing. Instead of taking the reward, Sampson asked Justinian to open a free medical facility for the poor. Sampson went on and founded one of the most well-respected hospitals in Constantinople. He chose to live in a humble home which served as a homeless shelter and medical facility.
By reflecting on the life and works of St. Samson, we can learn to open the doors of our spiritual hearts to the poor and parentless children. While not all of us have the means to do what he did, we can look at his generosity of spirit, of time, of expertise and, if possible, of material wealth as the epitome of parental responsibility.
The ideal father is one who supports his family; working, ensuring medical care, housing and preparation for the future. Consider the calling to spiritual parenthood as described by Pope John Paul II.
If you are currently childless, or even if you have kids of your own, you may consider doing something to increase your sense of parenthood. If you’re an athletic type, consider volunteering as a sports coach. If you are an attorney, check local schools and organizations about starting up a debate team. If you love to cook, consider hosting a cooking lesson and invite the neighborhood kids. In so doing, we can look to St. Samson’s willingness to use what means he had to provide for others.
There are countless ways to strive for the kind of parenthood that St. Samson embodied. His feast day is June 27. On that day, consider making one gesture, no matter how tiny, to become your own “Father of the Poor.”