Our Holy Communion with the Saints

My dear friends,

What makes the celebration of the Feast of All Saints such a joyful feast and relevant to our simple, ordinary lives, is that the Christian women and men that we honor for their holiness and fidelity to Christ, are not just holy figures of a distant past. They are people who are still living, living in God’s glorious presence, while at the same time, sharing with us a real and intimate bond of love and unity. As Catholics we believe in the Communion of Saints. It is this mystery that moved St. Paul to proclaim to the baptized of Ephesus, “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the Saints, and members of the household of God.”

So the Saints are present to us, loving us at every moment with God’s own love, deeply interested in our lives and concerned for our salvation—wanting to express in numerous ways their friendship, to be in all things our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s wonderful to realize that there is this great throng of men and women who cherish us, pray for us, accompany us, and eagerly await our entrance into heaven.

This is one thing I have loved about being Catholic, our understanding of how real and actual is this communion with the Saints. All throughout my Catholic life, since the age of 22, God has given me different Saints at various times, and they have made it clear to me in various ways how much they wish to walk by my side and help me follow Christ in the way of salvation.

In the morning, at the end of my morning offering, I call upon these Saints to intercede for me and help me. One of them who has played a very significant role in my life is St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who died in 1897 at the age of 24. I was 27 years old when I read her autobiography, “Story of a Soul.” It was through her book that she introduced herself to me and became my spiritual sister.

One way she has helped me, and for which I am most grateful, is her teaching on the “little way.” God gave her a very simple way of understanding holiness, of what it means to be a saint. Like her, I have wanted to become a saint, because I want to go to heaven, but like her, I am always deeply aware of my weaknesses, my imperfections, my littleness. And so her “little way” became a great comfort and encouragement for me, especially when life became hard or complicated. She often reminded me that the way to heaven is a simple path (not necessarily easy) but a simple path that consists entirely of doing all things with love, especially the most ordinary daily activities, and trusting our salvation entirely to the mercy of Jesus. This is how she puts it, speaking to our Lord:

“Yes, my beloved, this is how my life will be consumed. I have no other means of proving my love for you other than that of strewing flowers, that is, not allowing one little sacrifice to escape, not one look, one work, profiting by all the smallest things and doing them through love. I desire to suffer for love and even to rejoice through love; and in this way I shall strew flowers before your throne. I shall not come upon one flower without unpetalling it for you.

While I am strewing my flowers, I shall sing, for how could one cry while doing such a joyous action? I shall sing even when I must gather my flowers in the midst of thorns, and my song will be all the more melodious in proportion to the length and sharpness of the thorns.”

It is because of her “little way,” that I have always believed that St. Therese is a Saint for our time. She calls us to the heart of the Gospel, which is love, allowing the Holy Spirit to breathe God’s love into all we do. By following her little way our kitchen counters, dining room tables, work benches, dash boards, and office desks become altars, places where the most ordinary activities become the means of offering our lives to God and serving others. Though I often fail to live out this little way, missing many opportunities to love, St. Therese is there to encourage me to place all my confidence and trust in God’s mercy that comes to me through the Blood of Jesus—that precious blood that cleansed me at Baptism, and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other means, will continue to cleanse and purify all that is not yet transformed by love in my life.

Who are the special Saints in your life? It would be wonderful this week if we could share with each other stories about the Saints in our lives.

God love you,

Fr. Steven

 

 

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