The Feast of All Saints
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WHAT IS A SAINT?

What is a saint? Many people upon hearing this curious word "saint" cringe. To them, saints are one-dimensional, sometimes even vaguely creepy people who are uncomfortable to be around. They have one track minds and are other than human. They exist on a different plane where they have no real appreciation of how ordinary folk live. Saints are rigid creatures who don’t know the agonies and eccentricities of life. Those who feel this way about sainthood are likely to say, with a hint of disdain – and pride – "I’m NO saint!"

Then there are people who think the saints exist in a type of rosy glow. They exude sentiment from holy cards and would be quite at home with sweet Hallmark greetings. To this audience the saints are always kind and gentle and never have a rotten thought. Supermen, but elevated even higher, the saints are miraculous figures whose feet never really touched the ground. People who have this image probably also think of our Lord in rosy glows – eerily adrogynous, with stylized features and a perfect complexion. This is the Jesus whom Dorothy Sayers describes (in the wonderful The Whimsical Christian) as someone whom we have declared and "certified 'meek and mild’…a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies."

If you perceive sainthood as an undesirable attribute or think of saints as one-dimensional shadows of real human beings, you probably have never met cantankerous Saint Jerome or firebrand Saint John the Baptist, anxious and tormented Padre Pio or wry Saint Teresa, joke-cracking bishop Saint Laurence O’Toole or achingly grateful Saint Mary Magdalen, brainy and poetic Saint Thomas Aquinas or indomitable Saint Catherine of Siena, moody Saint Augustine, playful Saint Therese or mad Saint John of God. Perhaps you did not know that among the saints there are people who, rather than being meek and mild, are rather ferocious. Among the saints there are also great wits, addle-brained dreamers, foolish oafs, mischievous curmudgeons, radical crusaders, shy artists, and passionate poets. There are housewives and kings, tax agents and lawyers (yes, lawyers!), bakers and brigands.

But in this diverse bunch of souls for Christ, there are common characteristics. All the saints share certain virtues - a yearning for holiness, an intimacy with God, perseverance in prayer, humility of heart, and love of their fellow men and women, that is, charity of soul.


For all the Secret Tzaddiks and Undercover Saints:

SAINTS

 It is the glory
 of the Church
 that it cannot
 name
 all the saints.

 It is the glory
 of the Church
 that it cannot
 remember
 all the saints.

 It is the glory
 of Christ
 that we cannot
 count
 all the saints.

 Saints are found
 behind all the rocks
 of the
 mountain.

 Saints are found
 among  the trees
 of the wood.

 Saints  hide in
 blossoms,
 ride birds,  top clouds;
 follow  passages
 under the
 earth.

 They sweep the floors
 of the universe.

 They take out the garbage
 of the cosmos.

The seeds they scatter
 soften and green the  hillsides;

 leaves open
 their hands;
 joyful  beasts
 wander  among trees,
 cling to grassy
 slopes.

 The faithful
 cling to the roots
 of the saints,
 growing up
 from the ground.

 * * *
 Matthew R. Brown

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"Should we fall into sin, let us at once humble ourselves sorrowfully in
His presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw
ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be
cancelled, and anxiety will be turned into love."
(St Paul of the Cross)

"All the way to heaven is heaven, for Jesus said: I am the Way!"
(St Catherine of Siena)

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