If you follow me in social networking venues, you’ll know that I’m somewhat obsessed with the lives of the saints. I blame/credit my parents, who first introduced me to these holy men and women in childhood and fostered in their children a deep desire for faith in our own lives. In those early years, seeds were planted that blossomed into full flowers when my publisher invited me to write a book on the lives of the saints.
Imagine the luxury of someone saying to a saint-lover, “Choose your favorites, ponder your own feelings about them, and share them with others.” The earliest draft chapters were met with resistance on the part of my editor — they read like Bulters, but were far less authoritative and eloquent. In sending me back to the drawing board to come up with something that was more personal, Editor Eileen struck a match in my soul. Each day, when I study the life of and pray through the intercession of a new saint or blessed, I send up a prayer of gratitude for her invitation to know these men and women according to my own terms.
Contemplating the lives of the saints in this way can feel self indulgent. My morning prayer routine (an interesting concoction that I’ll share at a later date) includes checking one of my all-time favorite websites: Saints.SQPN.com. At this vast warehouse of saintly treasures, my friend Terry — a hagiography hobbiest and tech genius — has created a living, breathing encyclopedia of saints. For each day of the year, there are usually over a dozen different saints listed. Each saint has a page filled with biographical data, quotes, artwork depictions and a full list of link resources. Along with podcasts by my dear friends Pat Gohn (Among Women) and Dr. Paul Camarata (SaintCast), the pages of Saints.SQPN.com have brought the saints to life in my heart.
Most days, I try to challenge myself to “meet” a new intercessor, to learn about his or her life, and to look at it in the context of my own spiritual struggles and blessings. I compose a short prayer through the intercession of my new spiritual friend, and sometimes brazenly share those on my Pinterest “Saints” board. I don’t do this out of a sense of “Look how holy I am…“, but rather with a desire to share my love of the saints with my online friends. In coming to know their stories, we learn about history, art, and the culture of their time, along with the obvious spiritual role model of heroic virtue they provide.
For example, today, I chose to pray through the intercession of St. Alonso (or Alphonsus) Rodriguez. St. Alphonsus joins a growing number of “heavenly porters” I’ve met in my studies — a simple, relatively uneducated man who found his way to sanctity by opening the door for others (literally and figuratively). St. Alonso’s life was filled with the ups and downs that plague so many of us, and yet he never gave up hope. He also didn’t take “no” for an answer when repeatedly met with the feedback that he wasn’t smart enough to fulfill his desired vocation. Somehow, I feel like he had the last laugh…
As we prepare to celebrate “All Hallow’s Eve”, All Saints Day and All Souls Day this week, I would love to know about the place of the saints in your life. Are the saints present in your intercessory prayers? Do they serve as role models for you? Or do you simply find them interesting but distant and impersonal? Do you have favorite resources and books that have helped you to better know and love the saints? And be sure to tell me the name of your favorite saint too (whether canonized formally or simply a member of the communion of saints), and why that intercessor means so much to you.