I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. Saints were persons who lived long ago and were more legend than real. Later in life, I learned a different understanding of a “saint.” Reading the New Testament letters from the apostles I realized the author was addressing his thoughts to the saints in Corinth, or in Thessalonica, or the various other Mediterranean cities where the church was born during the first century. My vocational education taught me a saint was, “one who was set apart.” The life of a saint is a life set apart to be an instrument of God (regardless if they are aware or not.)
To me, my mother was a saint, Santa Rita. This post could not contain all the reasons why but suffice it say in the midst of life, often turbulent and chaotic, she was a person of peace, humility, strength, and stability. Her life continues to be an inspiration and guide post to me as I navigate my way through marriage, parenthood, and simple daily life. I recall her memory and remember how little she needed to be happy and content, and how able she was to endure other’s sadness and malcontent.
Saint Francis was known to me from my earliest memories. It was the name of the church in which I was raised and later the name of the elementary and junior High School I would attend. The life of Francis left an indelible impression upon me. His counter-cultural life style. His joyful living while needing very little. His coming upon the ruins of an abandoned church and restoring it to host a vibrant community. My own temperament finds a soul friend in the life of Francis of Assisi known best for the prayer, “Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Peace…”
Our faith teaches us, we do not walk alone but we are accompanied by “a cloud of witnesses.” They have walked before us and they now walk with us. Though they are unseen, they have left us the gospel of their lives directing us along our own path of a life lived well.
On All Saints Day, Nov. 1, remember a saint of the church who has been a light and guide for you. On All Soul’s day, Nov. 2, remember a saint who walked with you in your life and whose prayers continue to guide and guard you from the invisible world. My candles will burn for Francis and Rita.