by Sister Laura Zelten
How many holy men and woman are recognized as saints by the Catholic Church? To answer this question I went to Google, after all we live in the digital age. According to the Catholic media site CatholicSaints.info, the Catholic Church recognizes 12,304 saints -- people who lived with extraordinary virtue.
We tend to think of the saints as perfect and pious people. We picture them gazing into the heavens with halos above their heads. Actually, they are men and women just like us, who lived ordinary lives and made mistakes. What makes them saints is their unwavering love of God and God's people. Yes, there are more than 12,000 recognized saints, but there are probably as many if not more "saints" whose names we might never know, people who have blessed others by living the Gospel to the fullest.
Today's Gospel reading invites us into the beatitudes, that wonderful litany of "Blessed are." In the beatitudes, holiness is equated with being poor in spirit, meek, mourning, hungering for righteousness, merciful, and clean of heart. Jesus is about reaching people's hearts, giving them reasons for hope and joy, and encouraging true and lasting conversion. Saints know this. They are women and men whose lives flow seamlessly from prayer to action. We need to hear their stories and be inspired by their witness. We need our saints.
Which saints, past or present, inspire you?
Thanks, Laura! I believe there were people who are saints who influenced me.
Saints--people to whom we can look up and want to pattern our lives after--we need them, even today. I believe that many saints walk among us. They are as you said, "They are the women and men whose lives flow seamlessly from prayer to action." I know many living saints. Thank you for your wonderful, uplifting message on All Saints Day!
I feel that my parents must be saints, they were simple pious people ready to help anyone that needed help. They were kind and I don't remember them running others down. I feel they saw Jesus in every one.
Because I have always loved & been moved by the sung litany of saints, I recently googled it and played a few versions of it that are on u-tube. While still appreciating the beauty of the music and meaning of the prayer, I realized something that I had not noticed before: Most all of the saints, as listed and named and sung about by the Catholic Church are male.
The beauty of the litany - which is meant to be a source of inspiration, hope, encouragement, strength and comfort for all - as every type of person is meant to be role model and saint - now also revealed to me a 'sadness' - of how 'forgotten' and diminished the female gender is by the Church. I felt a longing for a Church that "sees" as Paul came to "see:" Galatians 3:28 "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
I LOVE these two feast days! And what a beautiful Church we have who recognizes that on one day we can pray TO our loved to ask them to intercede for us, and on the other we can pray FOR them--since time is all one to God. My own patron, St. Monica, is inspiration to me, who also has to pray for children who are no longer close to God. Then there's Thomas More, John Bosco, Maria Goretti, St. Benedict (since I'm one of his oblates), the list could go on and on...
One of my favorite year traditions is to process through the cemetery on All Souls Day, singing, doing the Litany of the Saints, and praying for all who are there, reading inscriptions, and feeling very much in communion with those who have gone before us.
Excellent reflection on the ordinariness of the saints..thanks