The saints have always known that the power of good is something incalculable.
This month of November is, for Catholics, a month of remembering those individuals who have gone before us into eternity. We concentrate our intercession for their souls as they await judgment. But every day of the year offers moments to join our prayers with the Saints who have gone before us, who are before the Throne of God in worship, praise, and intercession for us. They are our mentors and guides as we make our way to Eternity; they surround us, interceding for us, the Church here on earth! (Book of Revelation 5-22).
There are saints among us, as well; saints-in-the-making. The ordinary people in our lives whom the Holy Spirit has placed there to spur us on and intercede for us. No doubt you can think of the names of the people who the LORD has sent at the right time in the right place to walk with you in our journey in sainthood. St. Paul lists a cadre of people in his letters who were nobodies by the world’s standard but were a part of the community of saints-in-the-making who assisted him.
I have benefited from the influence of a handful of individuals over these last few decades of desiring to know God more deeply. Let me tell you about one saint-in-the-making that came along beside me to introduce me to another completed Saint. I was a water fitness instructor for years, and in those years, I came to know Sister Margretta Doyle, who regularly came to swim during my early morning shift at a local health facility. Sister Margretta’s winsome spirit was contagious, and it wasn’t long before I positioned myself in the pool next to her so that I could learn from her life. The attractiveness of her life and her obvious love and devotion to Christ and His Church was a gift to me at a tumultuous time in my life. I desired stability, order, and purpose. The circumstance of my life had shown me that there are some things in life that simply cannot be easily manipulated. I was in a situation that wasn’t getting better, and the unpleasant realization of this wouldn’t go away. Have you ever felt that way, kind of painted into a corner that you did not choose? The common mentality that surrounded me focused on external solutions for that deep ache of my soul. You’ve been there, I am sure. When you realize that prized comforts no longer bring enough comfort. When you hear the emptiness of constant conversations and cultural noise does nothing but wear you out. When superficialities that once gave you a sense of false contentment now suck the life out of you. That’s where I was at, I was seeking depth and integrity. The Holy Spirit knew this, of course, and that’s why Sister Margretta was appointed to me, a guardian saint-in-the-making for the journey that was ahead.
One day, Sister Margretta wisely asked me if I had ever heard of St. Benedict. I had in the historical sense, but my knowledge of him was woefully limited (I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that accepted the fullness of the truth of the Communion of Saints). What followed that conversation was the beginning of the fulfillment of a spiritual longing I had had for much of my life. I studied the life of St. Benedict with Sister Margretta and a group of men and women who were beautiful examples to me of how enlivening my life as a Catholic could be.
Through the witness of St. Benedict, I learned the LORD’s wisdom on how to live an ordinary life ordered according to God’s precepts. I witnessed how life-giving it could be if I allowed His Holy Spirit to order my life by the charism of St. Benedict’s life. St. Benedict faced the same challenges in the 6th century as in the 21st century–nothing new under the sun! The culture that is antichrist is perpetual and will be to the end of the age. The Rule of St. Benedict is based on the teachings of the Gospel and offered me hope for living in the mire of the antichrist milieu.
As I opened myself to St. Benedict’s example, I noticed a common thread among the men and women who have passed through the scrim of eternity. St. Benedict faced down the challenges of his day by choosing a way of life and an attitude of mind that mirrored Jesus. The dictum to listen as the foundation of spiritual growth threads through the entirety of the Rule of St. Benedict. His rule begins with, “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” St. Benedict and all the Saints teach us not to base our judgments, goals, or sense of worth on what we see around us. We benefit from the story of their lives that live on in the Tradition of The Church.
When we are tempted to fix our gaze on what we can see, touch, hear and taste, we can study the lives of the Saints whose gaze was fixed on heaven in the midst of poverty, disease, persecution, and even death. Another practice we can do is pray with the Saints of the day. Our liturgical calendar cannot exhaust the many men and women who are, right now, praying before the throne of God for the salvation of the world.
When we find ourselves wringing our hands over the influence of the antichrist culture that we live in, we can recall that Saints lived in antichrist cultures, too. Just as St. Benedict stepped through eternity into my life to walk beside me, there is a Saint whom God desires to draw you to when you need them most. Ask the LORD to choose someone for you from the great cloud of witnesses that surround us.
We are all saints-in-the-making. Like Sister Margretta, whose life inspired my faith, we have observers of our life who the LORD wants us to inspire with our presence. They may be as close to you as a family member or as unknown to you as a grocery clerk. As saints-in-the-making, someone is always observing us. We are placed in their lives to spur them on in The Faith.
Father, you know who and what we need every moment. We thank you for the saints-in-the-making you have placed in our lives. We thank you for the gift of communion with the Saints who surround your throne!
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.