I’ve always pitied Christians whose traditions deprive them of a close connection with the saints. Saints, not all of them canonized, exemplify the shining lives of good deeds that lead others to God as today’s gospel urges. We can draw our clues for daily living from them. Plus saints can be very cool people!!!!
My own fascination with saints began in 3rd grade with a book called “Little Queen,” a biography of St. Therese of Lisieux, I must have read it 25 times. St. Therese followed her “little way” of offering God small daily deeds since she couldn’t do great things, just like us.
I can still see the nuns holding up pictures of saints during “saint quizzes,” especially gruesome images like St. Stephen being stoned or St. Sebastian with the arrows in his chest. Those were big hits on our playground. However since stoning is out of style in the U.S., here are a few favorite saints whose example I call on:
•Pope John XXIII, that wondrous human being whose love for all God’s people cut through centuries of religious hostilities. I think of Pope John when I start demonizing someone with whom I disagree.
•St. Ignatius, who teaches us to find God in all things and to live as women and men for others in order to win the world for God. I love knowing that everything in life can become a prayer.
•Mother Theresa who taught us to turn our daily lives into “something beautiful for God” through reaching out to those in need in our communities.
•St. Thomas More, that “man for all seasons” who goads us to maintain the courage of our convictions even if there’s a heavy price.
Of course who could live without the “Peace Prayer” of St. Francis of Assisi? What mother doesn’t identify with Martha (I always liked her better than Mary)? And who could raise a family without help from the busiest guy in heaven, St. Anthony?
Here are two terrific books about saints, both devoid of pietistic hagiography: “Saint Watching,” by Phyllis McGinley and “My Life with the Saints” by James Martin S.J. Happy reading!
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