"Where shall we find a holy person?"

Fr. Dwight Longenecker  offers some timeless — and timely — advice:

Where shall we find a holy person? Where shall we find a saint? It is difficult because the real saint is hidden and humble and holy. Instead of looking for the hidden holy ones we fall for the  celebrity ‘saint’. We want the big dramatic conversion story. We want the dynamic, uncompromising speaker. We like the one who speaks out on sin and rails against the devil…

…Stop and consider that the real saints are hidden. They follow the little way. If you were to tell them they were a saint they would laugh and tell you to keep searching. If you even had the sense and discernment to see the saint next to you–the ordinary person who perseveres–the little person who serves others–the plain Jane who takes life easily and simply loves people, then you would learn again what true holiness really is. If we only had eyes to see the simplicity of the saints, the extraordinary ordinariness of holiness, the practical good humor and humility of the truly grace filled ones…

…My mind turns to the little saints I have known: an old woman who lived in a cabin in the woods and with gentle good humor and love turned my poisoned wayward heart back to God. A Poor Clare nun who lived as a hermit for years and endured great pain and hardship and yet never once complained. She always thought the best of everyone and believed not in my image, but in who I could really be. A Missionary of Charity I meet in El Salvador who serves mentally handicapped adults all day every day. A priest who serves the poor and suffers intense and chronic pain and never complains. A Eucharistic minister who visits the housebound and spends time with them and loves doing it.

It is the little way that leads to salvation. Not the way of pride and pleasure and power. Not the way of wealth and the world. Not the way of ego and ambition.

Only the way of the cross.

When are we going to learn this?

Read it all.

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5 responses to “"Where shall we find a holy person?"”

  1. Saints come in all different shapes and sizes. St Paul was obviously very different from Bernadette Soubirous. The only good news to come out of this situation is the realization that the truth we receive from the magisterium is not dependent or affected in any way by the sinfulness or holiness of the person conveying it.

  2. However, Brother Jeff, the worthiness of the teacher can indeed be questioned. The celebrity in question, while acting in the role of a catechist, violated principle #8 of the spirituality of a catechist, as found the the Vatican “Guide for Catechists”: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cevang/documents/rc_con_cevang_doc_19971203_cath_en.html

    “8. Coherence and authenticity of life. The work of catechists involves their whole being. Before they preach the word, they must make it their own and live by it… The truth of their lives confirms their message.”

    When the life of the catechist appears to belie his belief in that which he teaches, the faithful may well question the validity of the message. The damage is done.

  3. Yes but Joyce that doesn’t mean that perfect holiness is a prerequisite for catechists, or that sinners won’t end up being catechists. if that were the criterion, we’d have very few catechists indeed. I agree that, if all of this is true as it appears to be, it’s terrible and not in conformity at all with 8. I also don’t think rule 8 is an invitation to focus on the personal holiness of the teacher; it is a reminder to the catechist himself or herself. Conveying the truth is what matters.

    My point was solely that not all holy people are quiet types. Look at Bishop Sheen, JP II, Mother Angelica, John the Baptist, St Augustine.

  4. When I want to see a saint I look at my wife. First of all for putting up with me, then for all her quiet ways, her loyalty, her hard work, her love for her children, her genuine and truthful love of others, her work with the elderly, her unassuming and great love for the Eucharist, her silent prayers. She will never be a “star”, she is not a good “public speaker”, but she does all those “little ways” that will put her in heaven while I will probably stew in Purgatory for a long time. There are saints, but most of them are known only to those they touch and to God.

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