Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Saints show the way"

By F. MacN.

The Irish Times

October 31, 1998

We enter the leaf-strewn paths of November on a day of victory recalled and of hope made new. The feast of all our saints brings a special radiance to dispel the winter gloom. We take time to remember the women and men who made glad the landscape of our lives by the beauty and fidelity and generous love of the pilgrim days. Their example shines as a beacon to guide us safely even in our darkest days. We have our cherished favourites among the women and the men who brought holiness into the daily round. They made the world a better place for all of us who now follow their footsteps on the once-made journey. Like us, they knew the daily struggle between high ideals and inherent weakness, between Gospel challenge and the siren call of selfishness and sin. They realised that the spirit could indeed be willing but the flesh could be forever weak. In fidelity to the Godgiven faith which we now share they realised that our help was in the name of the Lord who made both the majestic heavens and the wondrous earth.

Their memory inspires us still. Their prayers reach out to help us and to heal. They summon us to turn aside from folly and from falsehood. When we make our pilgrim way to Lough Derg, to Clonmacnoise, to Kildare, to Glendalough or Gougane Barra, we realise we are on holy ground. We breath a purer air and, made clean in body, mind and heart, we return to our daily task alive to Gospel truth.

On this glad November day we allow ourselves to be touched by the example of Edith Stein and Oliver Plunket, of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, George Simms, Matt Talbot and so many more. The torch-bearers go before us. We ignore them at our peril. Great lights shine so often. Do we close our eyes and turn away? Or do we live by truth of Scripture and by grace of Sacrament?

Many of us may say "Gospel values are beautiful, life-giving and forever true. But we live in evil times." St. Augustine calls us to reject shallow cliché. "We ourselves make the times. If we are good we make good times. Let us fashion the times by the quality of our lives."

Grace built in nature develops us and brings all qualities to perfection. The women and the men we honour to-day to prove us that we can live and love and work in happy, well-ordered days of sanity and full development as people of the Beatitudes. To this we are called. On the pilgrim way we discover fulfilment and lasting peace. When we stray, the Good Shepherd awaits us in love to lead from darkness back to light.

We rejoice today with the women and the men who walked before us in faith, in fidelity and in love. The guiding star of Resurrection hope shines for us as for them and leads us safely home.

May all the splendid company

Whom Christ in glory came to meet

Help on our once-travelled path

Made clearer by their pilgrim feet.

Lord, that I may see!