While I've been trying really hard this last year to be aware more constantly of how blessed I am and to give thanks for it, November is a good time to kick this up a notch. What better way for this to start than by remembering those great souls that have come before us to provide us with their example of Christ-filled living, their wisdom through their written words and thoughts, and their help through their intercessions for us from their heavenly home...
Today is the Feast of All Saints... As my priest reminded us at church tonight - Saints with both a capital "S" and a small "s". Speaking of church... It just about did me in tonight. I was by myself at 5pm Mass with all three girls. They were b.u.s.y.!!!!!! But ... We made it through, there were no tears, no screams (except a couple of protesting screeches from Lauren which is ok), and hopefully not too much distraction for those around us!!
Back to All Saints... I thought I'd share a few of the ones that hold special places in my life and why.
St. Joseph - I'm not sure where my devotion to St. Joseph stems from, it is something that has been present since I was in high school. It could be that so little is spoken of him in scripture, but you know he had to be a holy and devout man as the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. His feast day is March 19th.
St. Elizabeth - when I was pregnant with Karen, I felt a strong devotion to St. Elizabeth. She had spent so many years carrying the burden and stigma of being barren to joyfully conceive and raise John the Baptist. She was the first person outside of Mary and Joseph to recognize the divinity of Christ, even while He was within Mary's womb: "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me? " Luke 1: 41-43 I spent many walks during my last months of pregnancy thinking about her life and the sorrows she experienced early on and the depth of her joy in later years.
St. Gianna - A modern day saint. In a world that so devalues the life of the unborn child, St. Gianna is a shining example of a mother's love. She died giving life to her fourth child, having known full well throughout her pregnancy that this outcome was a possibility.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux -A man who was passionately in love with Christ and found a way to infect those closest to him with the same love. We read a book on his life in my book club this last year and it is by far one of the best books I've read. He has an amazing way with words and with conveying his love of Christ. An example of loving Christ with your whole heart that I can only hope to try and emulate.
St. Catherine of Siena -One of my new favorite saints. I read a story on her life written by Louis de Wohl. Technically an historical fiction novel, but extensively researched so pretty factual in the actual events. The title is "Lay Siege to Heaven"... and that St.Catherine did. I sometimes tend to think that the trials that the Church is undergoing in present times are unique and unparalleled... but I only need to read back in history to see that is not true. I also need only to read about some of the great souls like St. Catherine, or St. Bernard to realize that while we think one person can't change anything... with the grace of God, they can. It helps me find hope.
Fr. Solanus Casey, Servant of God -A man on his way to sainthood. He is the first U.S. born person elevated to Servant of God. I do not know much yet about his life, but he has already played a significant role for my family. A relic of his was pinned to my niece's blanket last year in the hospital. As she died, her hand came slowly to rest on this relic - on which was printed the last words of Fr. Casey: "I give my soul to Christ." ... this simple action, a miracle really - brought my sister and her husband so much peace. They felt it was a final statement from their daughter. I will be forever grateful for Fr. Casey's intercession for my family.
What Saints (or saints) inspire you at times?