Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Imitation & Less Veneration. By: C.C.

"Often we are led to believe that sainthood is reserved to a few chosen ones... saintliness, the fullness of Christian life, does not consist in the achievement of extraordinary feats, but in uniting oneself with Christ... in making His disposition ... His behavior ... our own." (Pope Benedict XVI)
"The goal of the Christian life is holiness. Those who have attained this goal we call saints. They have found their essential purpose, they have celebrated their essential purpose. They have quietly chiseled away at the defects and weaknesses in their characters, they have become the best version of themselves. They have truly applied themselves to the Christian life. They have brought the Gospel to life, and they have lived authentic lives. I ask you, Who has lived more fully than the saints?"( Matthew Kelly: Rediscovering Catholicism)
Our Saints are more than the statues, murals, paintings, and names on our parish walls. They are more than a piece of jewellery worn as a fashion statement upon the wrists of our youth. Sadly many remain in ignorance about what these men and women truly represent and why they should be imitated today. These holy men and women of our faith gave their lives to living out the Gospel. They strove to love the Lord above all things and looked to do His will. I was blessed to be given the book entitled "Rediscovering Catholicism" by a dear friend of mine. She read me a quote the other night speaking to the issue of saintly veneration opposed to imitation. I have been reflecting on this throughout the day and feel that it is an issue to bring to light. Matthew Kelly writes, "If we, as Catholics were genuinely striving to become holy, the saints and our devotion to the saints would never suffer the criticisms and blows that are endlessly hurled at them today. When veneration replaces imitation, the saints lose their genuine role in Christian spirituality." One may ask..what is the role of the saints? Our saints serve as reminders to us of our own call to holiness. They also show us the power of God through human flesh when one is open and responsive to His call. It is through learning about the lives that these men and women lived that we are able to see ourselves, our own journeys, and the power of our Lord. When we fail to relate to their lives and acknowledge the many ways that should be imitated, it is then we do a disservice to ourselves, God, and our faith. Growing up in the Italian culture I was often surrounded by pictures and statues of St Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio, St. Anthony of Padua, and many others. These were most commonly on display at my grandmother's house (Nonna's house). Through childish and ignorant eyes these photographs and statues lacked significance to me, but somehow I knew to respect them. I made attempts in my poor Italian vernacular (at the time) to ask my nonna about these "people" I saw displayed before me. Nonna in her broken English attempted to share stories about the saints with me. When I was nine years of age she gave me a book entitled "lives of the saints", it is a hard cover book all written in English and I am convinced that this book at that time was already years older than my grandmother. At nine years old I ignorantly glanced through the pictures of the would sadly be years before these saints became such an important part of my life. Today I value this book immensely and consider each life explained as something to be adored and praised but also imitated. I take comfort in reading of the struggles, successes , virtues, and graces that the saints experienced. We must look toward our saints and their lives to find comfort. We must seek out their stories to properly understand why their names are written upon parish walls. There is a lesson to be learned through each of them. There is something we must take and apply to our own lives. We can pray for their intercession through our struggles, through our joys, and through every day that we live. I encourage you to start by simply reading about the daily saint, or finding out which saint is celebrated on your birthday. May we seek to not only venerate our saints but imitate them through our daily commitment to God and His will. May we recognize that in becoming like the saints we will share in a deeper union with Jesus Christ (C.C.)

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