The Diversity of the Saints Is a Diversity of Pain

Speaking of the wild diversity of the saints–over the weekend I read this powerful & bluntly painful piece from Mudblood Catholic: “God is doing something in the dark.” But what? And, really, “Why remain here in the dark?”

And that post collided with a very intense night at the pregnancy center, and the readings from this past Sunday:

For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

It’s so hard to see each life–even our own–the way God sees it, with love. So hard to see each unique constellation of sins, sorrows, and challenges, the pointillism of a human life which can seem like chaos from close up, the way He sees it. And yet from further off, we can see that His saints often look just as crazy, unintelligible even to themselves (St Teresa says this), trailing clouds of self-devised disasters. The diversity of saints is a diversity of sins.

We’re given the knowledge of the saints’ salvation for a whole lot of reasons: They show us that people in all kinds of jobs, with the typical failings of vastly different cultures, with every kind of privilege and lack of privilege, and with every kind of sin, are called by God. They offer us models of perseverance and models of repentance, against seemingly insuperable internal and external obstacles. They teach us to think in terms of the Body of Christ, not the individual believer or her culture. They teach us to think by analogy and empathy, feeling our way through the clutter of Christian history for someone whose story gives us hope. They give us much-needed gallows humor (St Lawrence is the patron of rotisserie operators).

What might I be for people who need me later, after I’m dead? What might you be? What is God doing down there in the dark?

About Eve Tushnet

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