Thursday, May 24, 2012

What makes a Saint?

Its Summer time! In this family, Summer time means Saints time! We may not school all year round but as a mom and teacher, I have to do something educational over the Summer. We learn about the Saints of our church during the school year but we can really focus and relax and go more in depth about their lives during these hot months.

My beloved local Catholic Church, Coronation of Our Lady, was gifted with a new priest 10 months ago who repeatedly says that he wants to be a Saint. Now, I don’t know about you but I have only heard these words come off the pages from actual Saints from hundreds of years ago.  I have not actually heard a live human being say that they want to be a Saint. Kind of strange, huh?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a Saint?   As our family learns about one Saint at a time, there are common threads they shared with one another. If I want to be a Saint, the best place to begin would to read and learn about other saintly wives and mothers so they can be my example. If my priest wants to be a Saint, I would guess he would emulate the lives of other canonized priests.

My kids enjoy learning about their own patron saints. I have 4 boys and all 4 of them were named after Saints that were priests. I want to briefly tell you about a handful of priestly Saints. It would take a man of very great faith and courage to want to imitate what these poor souls had to suffer.

St. Nicholas
I love reading about this Saint every year on December 5th and then setting out the shoe’s for St. Nicholas to fill in the night with candy coins and other treats! His life was not full of treats and gift though. As a very young boy, he was disliked by his Roman neighbors. He was mocked, yelled at and threatened for loving God. When he became a priest, he was downright hated.  The only people that dared to go to Mass were only the holiest of holy people who love the Eucharist more than they feared persecution. When Christianity was outlawed, Nicholas (now a bishop) was tortured, chained and thrown into prison until the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity again. St. Nicholas attended the very first Ecumenical Council in response to the current heresy where he is to have slapped a man in the face that spread this heresy that Jesus was not really God.
St. Maximilian Kolbe

“What will become of you Raymond?!”  ~mama Kolbe.  Raymond was a mischievous boy and his mother was frustrated with him. Little Raymond was praying when he saw a vision of our Blessed Virgin Mary. She offered him 2 crowns, a white one and a red one. She asked which he would like and he said “both”! He knew that he was called to live a life of purity and die a martyr’s death.  As a priest, he used modern technology to spread the faith. He named his paper after Our Lady whom he had consecrated his entire life to.  He used his monastery as a refugee for Jews and anyone else that were being persecuted by the Nazi’s. He was eventually arrested, put in a concentration camp at Auschwitz. He never stopped ministering to all the prisoners. Even as he lay dying of starvation, he still sang songs, prayed and preached of God’s mercy and salvation to lift the spirits of the other frail men.

St. Benjamin

Yeah. This is a little too gross to talk about. Persecution is an understatement.

St. Matthew the apostle

This is a man, along with all the other 11 apostles that were kicked out from town to town as he preached the Gospel. BTW, when I say “Gospel”, I am not talking about Scripture or the New Testament as it was not written yet. This was oral teaching that was handed down to him by Jesus Christ himself. After being persecuted and mocked for years on end, he was eventually axed to death.

These are the priestly patron saints of my boys. Here is another one that we will be learning more about this summer.....

St. JoseMaria Escriva

I just love this name. It makes me feel super Catholic just to say it. If you haven’t seen There Be Dragons, rent the movie! It tells the story of this remarkable saint. He founded Opus Dei, an institution to help people of every walk of life to be a Saint. We are all called to be saints. This is not just for priests and religious. He only had a small group of people to begin this mission. During the Spanish civil war, he had to celebrate Mass and listen to confessions in secret. He put his life in danger repeatedly for the Sacraments, including rescuing the Eucharist from the Tabernacle in a church before it was desecrated by soldiers.

I do not know how many priestly saints there are and googling it does not help but I am sure the number is quite high. I want to plead with my Catholic brothers and sisters to read about the lives of all of these Saints. This is what you will discover…… What these men have in common is that they spread the faith to those that didn’t want to hear it. They were unpopular in their neighborhoods. They had a small group of faithful and holy people to support them. They had a much larger group of people that hated and persecuted them. They had a great devotion and consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They all desired to be a Saint.

Yes, my priest is right on track.

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