Tag Archives: all saints day

A Saint for Today

October 31, 2017

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On Saturday, November 4th Sr. Rani Marie (Who’s name translates as Queen Mary) will be beatified, the first step toward canonization. A member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation from Kerala, India, Sr. Rani Marie was martyred 22 years ago. She was murdered by landlords who were against missionary activities by the Catholic Sisters, while working among the poor. Sr. Rani Maria was 41 when Samandar Singh, hired by some landlords, stabbed her inside a bus on February 25, 1995. She had worked among poor landless agricultural laborers and others to fight for just wages and other rights.

Her amazing story did not end with her death; in fact, it is where it starts. While serving 11 years in prison, Samandar Singh plotted to get revenge on the landlords that pushed him into killing the nun, that is until another nun came to visit. Sister Selmi Paul, who happened to be the murdered nun’s own sister came to him, hugged him and called him brother. He was profoundly touched by her gesture, so much so that from this embrace his journey of repentance began. He gave up plans for revenge and converted to Catholicism.  Now, released from prison, Sr. Rani Marie’s family treats him like a brother, in fact it was Sr. Rani’s family that lobbied for his release from prison.  They have adopted him into their family.

I heard about this story at about the same time I heard of the tragedy in Las Vegas. I happened to be at a daily Mass the day after the shootings that killed 58 people.  Even as they death count was still being tallied, the priest at this daily Mass jarred me when he led us all in a prayer for the 59th victim…the shooter. It is a strange thing as Catholics that we are called not only to love our friends but to love our enemies.   Love them so much so that we pray for them along with our loved ones.

A priest I recently heard was expounding on the Blessed Mother at the cross of Christ and hearing the words, “Behold, your Mother.” He said, “At that moment, Mary, knowing that her son was dying for our sins and dying for the sins of even John, who’s home she would then enter, was being asked to be mother to the ones her son was dying for.”  “Who,” he challenged the mothers in the audience, “would be able to take on that role of mothering the ones who were the cause of their own son’s death?”

Only a saint. Only our Queen Mary.

Most of us will never be martyred or hopefully never be in the position to forgive a murder of a family member, but all of us have someone we need to forgive.  It could be someone who has caused us some pain in some way, a friend, co-worker, boss, or family member.  It could be someone even closer and the initiator of very deep pain such as a parent, spouse, abuser or even a child.  The lives of the saints are not just stories of the outwardly heroic, but they are the examples of everyday forgiveness.

St. Richard’s in Richfield, 7540 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55423, will be celebrating a 4:00 p.m. Syro-Malabar (Eastern  Rite) Catholic Mass on Sunday November 5 in honor of Rani Marie’s Beatification.  All are welcome to attend!

 

 

 

 

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Saints and angels

October 29, 2015

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Mary and Joseph in Nazareth - Stained glass window at St. John the Baptist, Vermillion, MN

Mary and Joseph in Nazareth – Stained glass window at St. John the Baptist, Vermillion, MN

A Special Feast Day.  November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints, not “All Angels” nor “All Saints and Angels.”  In fact, the Archangels have a separate feast day on September 29 and the Guardian Angels on October 2.  If the saints and angels are both together in heaven gathered around God’s throne forever singing God’s praises, are they the same or different?

Angels.  An angel is a spiritual being without a body that has existed across the ages, dwells in heaven, has been and continues to be totally loyal to God, serves God in a variety of capacities, and may be dispatched as a messenger or representative of God to earth or to a specific person to carry out a special function.  There are many references to angels in Sacred Scripture.

Saints.  A saint was a human being that had a physical body, lived in a specific time and place, has died and gone to heaven, and lived an exceptionally good and virtuous life.  The saints were guided by Sacred Scripture on the path of holiness.

Special Classes of Angels.  The classes of angels are the Angels and Archangels, the Thrones and Dominations (Dominions), the Principalities and the Powers, and the Virtues, as well as the Cherubim and Seraphim, and the Guardian Angels.

Special Classes of Saints.  The classes of saints are the apostles, the foundation of the Church, its first shepherds and teachers, who watch over it and protect it still; the martyrs, those who have died for the faith and given heroic witness; pastors, great preachers and teachers; virgins and religious, those who have consecrated their life to Christ for the sake of the Kingdom; and holy men and women.

The Purpose of Angels.  The angels serve as God’s messengers and they bring God’s call to individuals; God’s instructions, commands or announcements; and they speak God’s Word.  The angels also convey God’s divine presence and companionship; lead the People of God on the journey; bring comfort and consolation in times of sadness; act as guardians and protectors; provide divine assistance throughout life, particularly in times of trial or hardship; give strength in the battle against sin and temptation; sing God’s praises in choir around God’s throne in heaven; and will assist the Son of God on Judgment Day.

The Purpose of Saints.  The saints are examples of holiness, and their virtuous lives teach us how to live in a virtuous manner.  The saints, particularly the martyrs, were heroic, and they show us how to live with courage and conviction.  The saints are proof that it is possible to live a good and holy life; if they can do it, we can do it.  The saints offer hope; if they have gone to heaven, they show us that heaven is reachable and that we can follow them there.  The saints are intercessors; they are in heaven, near God, and enjoy God’s favor, and they are in an excellent position to present our prayers to God on our behalf.

Famous Angels.  The best known angels are the Archangels:  Michael, the mighty warrior that led the heavenly host against Lucifer and the bad angels and expelled them from heaven; Gabriel, God’s messenger to Mary and Zechariah; and Raphael, the companion and protector of Tobiah on his journey.

Famous Saints.  The best known saints are Mary, the Mother of God, and her husband Joseph; John the Baptist, the prophet who announced the arrival of the Messiah; Peter, the first of the Apostles, and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles; Benedict, the father of western monasticism, and Francis of Assisi, the saint regarded by many as the one who best patterned himself on the life of Jesus.

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The Beatitudes – The roadmap to sainthood

November 1, 2012

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The month of November begins with one of the most important holy days of the entire year, All Saints Day, November 1, when we honor those who have gone before us, lived good and holy lives, and been taken to heaven where they are gathered around God’s throne and can see God as God really is.  While it is proper to remember the great faith and good works of these outstanding men and women, this feast is also a reminder to each of us to live good and holy lives ourselves so that one day we might join the saints in perpetual light.

The journey from this life to the next can be long, with many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it is imperative to stay on the right road.  Fortunately, Jesus has given us a roadmap to guide us on the way, the Beatitudes, the eight spiritual ideals that point in the right direction.

The first sign on the path to holiness reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who trust completely and totally in God and are detached from material possessions.  The second extols mourners, those who endure hardships and losses with courage, learn compassion, and console others who have suffered misfortune with kindness.  The third commends the humble, meek, or lowly, those who have set aside all inclinations to selfishness and pride, are alert and sensitive to others, would prefer to serve rather than be served, and are delighted to help shoulder the burdens and lighten the loads of their neighbors.  The fourth advises “hunger for righteousness,” those who have an intense desire to know what God wants, are glad to obey God’s will, keep themselves free of all wrongdoing, fearlessly speak the truth, and uphold justice.

Jesus goes on to highlight the merciful, those who are patient, slow to anger, do not rush to judgment, give the benefit of the doubt, are not eager to punish, able to grant pardon, and willing to associate with and serve those who have made bad choices.  Next, “the single-hearted” are those who are undivided, who devote themselves exclusively to God, or put another way, “the clean of heart,” those who strive to lead a virtuous life, wish to be in the state of grace and remain pure and innocent, blameless and undefiled.  Peacemakers are those who help to reconcile differences, foster harmony, and build the common good.  Finally, “those who are persecuted for holiness” are willing to suffer for doing what is good and right.  These spiritual ideals serve as the roadmap for traveling through our life on earth as we continue toward our final destination, sainthood in heaven with almighty God.

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Why the saints are in a good position to pray for us

October 25, 2011

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The Trinity Adored by All Saints (detail), Spain, early 15th cen. Photo/clairity Licensed through Creative Commons

Every day people post prayer intentions on a board outside my church’s perpetual adoration chapel in hopes that adorers will take those needs to prayer.  And every Sunday Catholics pray for the Church, their communities and the world.

Christians pray for others–and it makes sense that they’d continue to pray in heaven.

As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, it’s worth considering who the saints are and why we ask them to intercede for us.

The Catechism defines a saint as, “the ‘holy one’ who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life.” That’s what we’re all aiming at.

Heroic Virtue

A holy person who has died becomes a saint with a capital ‘S’ when the Church canonizes or beatifies them after common repute and conclusive arguments prove they’ve exercised heroic virtue during their lives.

One of the biggest objections to asking for a saint’s intercession (We don’t pray to them but rather we ask them to pray with us.)  is the scripture passage stating that Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity. (I Tim. 2:5)

However, those who are with the Lord are in a good position to offer Him our petitions:

“Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. … [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquire on earth through the one mediator between  God and men, Christ Jesus. … So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” (CCC 956)

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, we can pray two ways. First, to God alone “because all our prayers ought to be direct to obtaining grace and glory which God alone gives.”  But secondly, “we pray to the holy angels and to men not that God may learn our petition through them, but that by their prayers and merits our prayers may be efficacious.”

Scriptural Basis

Scripture contains many references to the effectiveness of intercession on earth and in heaven. Rev. 5:8 and 8:3-4 describe the prayers of the saints as like incense before God.  Job 42:8 speaks of the intercession of Job and Gen. 20:7 and 17 to that of Abraham.  Also, Phil. 1:3-4 and Rom. 15:30 emphasize the importance of intercession.

During their lives the saints like St. Cyprian encouraged us to give our petitions to Christians in heaven:

“Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.”

Maybe when we post our petitions at church we should also ask as some powerful Christians in a better location to pray, as St. John Chrysostom  encourages:

“When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies … but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power.”

 

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