Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Ordinary Stuff of Saints

by The Franciscan Friars, TOR
Monday, November 1, 2010

The opening lines of this hymn help to provide a focus for the feast we celebrate today. “For all your saints still striving; for all your saints at rest” this is what we are remembering today. The gigantic catalogue of Saints, Blesseds and Servants of God staggers any one individual’s memory. Furthermore, this list is just the beginning for the Church’s memory.

All Saints Day is about all those who choose to make the Gospel of Christ a living thing. When Saint Theresa of Avila remarked, “Some say that the saints are dead. I say that they are more alive than we are.” And Saint Ireneus’, “The glory of God is humanity fully alive.”, alert us to a choice that we can make every day.

This choice is not usually something that makes for headlines or consists of grand heroic acts. Most often , it tends to be known only to the person who makes it. To the casual observer, it looks ordinary and simply taken for granted. Yet, for the individual making it, there can be great heroism.

Take for instance the single mom who works an eight-hour day, perhaps as a sales clerk. As she stands behind her cash register, greeting each customer with respect, regardless of his or her mood at the time. Behind the scenes, she is concerned with the well-being of her young family, wondering if she’ll make it through another month of bills and childhood crises. The fact that she manages to do the “ordinary” is expected and not considered miraculous –the stuff of sainthood. Yet, in light of the Church’s memory of what makes for a saint, she is “on the list”!

What makes for a saint? Perhaps what Matt Talbot wrote in his journal would help broaden our appreciation for this feast day. Talbot spent his youth, from about the age of 12 until his mid twenties in an alcoholic stupor. One day, having nothing to drink and no friends around to buy him his liquor, he decided to “make the pledge” to remain sober for three months. One day at a time, he not only stayed sober, but began living “fully alive”. Sustained by daily prayer and the sacraments, his ordinary life was a series of daily choices, marked by his reliance upon God’s grace. His note to himself read: “Three things I cannot escape: the eye of God, the voice of conscience, the stroke of death.” Here we read the foundation for living in the moment; in touch with life as it is. Further on he writes down the “How” he does it. “In company I guard my tongue. In my family I guard my temper. When alone, I guard my thoughts.” Here’s the stuff of saints!
Happy feast! It’s YOUR day!

Note: This article refers to Matt keeping a "journal;" he actually wrote comments in his books and on scrapes of paper.