sinners and saints

all saints

Happy All Saints Day! Today we stop and remember good and holy women and men who have gone before us. They are our heavenly mentors and guides here on earth.

When I was a child, I loved the stories of saints. Their lives were portrayed in glowing phrases, with even more glowing pictures. We placed them on pedestals of perfection, knowing we could never attain their heights of glory and holiness.

As an adult, I learned that even the saintliest of saints had a shadowy sinner side. My heroes were tarnished. They had vile tempers and moments of doubt. Their theology was sometimes questionable. Blessed are those who are persecuted in my name? Some saints were persecuted not for their holiness, but because they were just damn difficult to live with!

The pedestals were lowered, sometimes taken away all together. Saints were simply people like us trying their best to live a faithful life. They may not have been 100% holy, but they sought to be.

Today we are witnessing pedestals crumbling, one after another, beneath many who had achieved great heights of  worldly success. These secular heroes all had their cadre of adoring fans. They were models of achievement in their fields, garnering praise, prestige, power and money along the way. What were the causes of their falls from fame to infamy?

Sexual harassment. Rape. Lies. Fraud. Stealing. Money laundering. Sleazy dealings. etc and etc…

The world has always been populated with sinners and saints. We are all a composite of sinner and saint.

But why are so many blatant sinners populating the upper echelons of power in our society? Our governments? Our religious institutions? Our world? 

Today, Pope Francis tweeted,

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On this Feast of All Saints, I pray…

That the light of justice will continue to shine on the corrupt, bringing to light the evils that are done in the dark. 

That the pedestals holding those who abuse power will implode under their feet. 

And I pray for saints…

Please, God, many saints. Good women and men who will bravely step forward to lead God’s people around the world on the path to justice and peace. Leaders who will use their power to serve, not to abuse . Leaders who will fight for the rights of all, not to line their pockets and those of their families and cronies. 

Amen, and Amen!

all saints day- a celebration for all, religious and or spiritual

November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, when we celebrate that glorious communion of women and men who have gone before us. The Catholic Church has an official Calendar of Saints for those whose sanctity has been verified and acknowledged through an arduous process and examination of their lives. In the early years of the Church, saints were recognized by simple acclamation of the people. Today, we know that there are many women and men who fill these hallowed halls that were known only to their nearest and dearest, but are no less saints that the greats who fill our liturgical calendar.

Contrary to the belief of some, Catholics don’t worship saints. We venerate them. They hold a special place in our hearts as models for inspiration. We have physical reminders of these special friends; statues, pictures and icons, and medals around our necks. We give their  names to our children, our churches and our towns, seeking their heavenly patronage and prayerful protection. We get a thrill when we have the opportunity to visit the special sites of their life, or spend time at their grave site. If anyone thinks this is weird, check out any sports fan who zealously wears their hero’s jersey to every game. Or how about a visit to a Hard Rock Café or any Hall of Fame filled with memorabilia of well-known stars and legends?

Belief in the communion of saints often unites “religious” and “spiritual but not religious” folks. Belief in the after-life and our spiritual union with those who have gone before us not only answers a deep need and hunger in our human existence, it is often experienced in tangible ways. We feel the presence of loved ones who have gone before us, sometimes in big moments and other times in the small whispers of daily life. Reminders of them are often unexpected, but always welcomed. It’s as if they are giving you a wee tap on your shoulder to let you know they are still there.

The Feast of All Saints is a wonderful opportunity to raise a glass in gratitude and praise to all the good and holy women and men who have gone before us. Their lives inspire us. Their ongoing prayers and love sustain us. May we look forward with hope to one day taking our place in their glorious ranks!