All Saints' Day: Oh I Want to Be in That Number!
I recently spent a day in Cartagena, Columbia, and visited the church where St. Peter Claver is buried. In the square next to the church is a beautiful sculpture of Peter with one of the enslaved persons to whom he ministered. It was so moving to see the tender gaze of Peter on a young man in obvious pain. It made me want to reach out to those who suffer from oppression and the denial of their human dignity. I wanted to take their pain away. Thank you, St. Peter Claver!
That’s what saints do—they inspire us to be better, more loving disciples of Jesus Christ. All Saints' Day is a great time to reflect on how saints can help us on our spiritual journeys and the journeys of the young people in our care. We all need heroes in our lives, people who make us want to be holy and courageous and generous and loving like them.
I want to share a few saints who inspire me, and I encourage you to reflect on the saints who do the same for you.
St. John XXIII has been a hero of mine for a long time. I grew up with him as my Holy Father. What I so admire about him is his great vision, a vision based on reading the signs of the times, and (in his own words) interpreting them for the next generation through the eyes of redemption. Pope John led the Church into modern history so that it would continue to be relevant in the lives of all God’s people. That’s what all of us in ministry need to do—pay attention to what’s happening out there in the world, look for the finger of God in the middle of the chaos, and figure out how to respond in faith.
St. Joan of Arc is my patron saint. And while I don’t strive to be burned at the stake, I admire her openness to God’s will. George Bernard Shaw’s remarkable play about Joan has her captured by the British and on trial. Her interrogators are questioning her, and note her claim that she heard the voices of saints who guided her into her fight against the British. Joan acknowledges that as truth. The men then claim that those voices are in her imagination. Shaw has Joan serenely answer “Of course!” She, like our Blessed Mother, listened to God’s messengers and responded in faith. I love the idea of God coming to me in my imagination. It makes prayer so much more open and trusting.
St. Oscar Romero has been an inspiration to me since I first read some of his speeches. He was killed while celebrating Eucharist because he spoke out against the death squads and those who suppressed the masses of poor people in El Salvador. I realize that he is a saint for me because he started out as a rather shy, scholarly sort who was drawn rather reluctantly into the fight for human rights for all Salvadorans. I figure if he could find the courage to speak out, then I can as well.
So who are the saints who inspire you? What do they make you want to do or be? If you need something to give you a jump start, try one of these suggestions.
- Read Father James Martin’s book, My Life with the Saints.
- Go daily to www.americancatholic.org and read about the Saint of the Day.
- Write your own Litany of Saints. If you live with your family, combine all of your saints into a litany which will be unique to you. Then pray it every day. It might sound something like this: “St. Michael, pray for us. St. Teresa, pray for us. St. Peter, pray for us. St. Monica, pray for us. St. John Paul, pray for us.”
- If you work with children or youth, have them create their own Litany of Saints with their parents and siblings.
- Find the patron saint for an issue which is vital to your life right now—from the patron saint of those suffering from cancer to the patron saint of students or the Patron Saint of those suffering from depression—and ask them to intercede with God on your behalf.
Have a holy, happy, and inspiring All Saints Day. God bless you!!!!