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How many saints do we know? Not just the Saints who are popularly acclaimed as such by a large number of persons, and who are publicly given the title, but men, women and children who inspire or guide us to a sense of the transcendent because of who they are. Once we get beyond looking for qualities of sanctity or holiness that we might be able to cite, and quietly reflect on some or our experiences, we will much more likely recall characteristic personal encounters of habitual goodness in them which we do not need to define or put into words.
These saints with whom we are acquainted do not make the news, nor are they made known in other forms of entertainment media that focus only on surface appearances and other superficial aspects of people. Our saints somehow nudge, encourage and support us to take joy in whatever is good, true and beautiful. These people are wholly helpful to us, almost always without their consciously intending to affect us in this way.
Gratitude might come to mind as we recall some of those whose observations, remarks, or manner of being has inspired us or lightened our hearts. We might not be able to actually thank them, for any number of reasons, but we can still acknowledge the appreciative movement that takes place in our minds and hearts. Gratitude is an appropriate interior acknowledgement of the effects of our saints upon us, for we are not the cause of their gratuitous personal gifts to us.
Our saints are, like us, imperfect: not every word or deed of theirs gives us cause to designate them as especially spiritual or otherwise remarkable in their dealings with us. But, over time, and especially through a number of challenging circumstances, their consistent positive influences in our lives are easy to recall with thankfulness. They also make it easier for us to recognize the goodness that lies within us all, though it is hidden in many of us and is apparently almost repudiated as a possibility in others.
The saints we know do not necessarily say anything about God, but by the way they interact with us they certainly do not lead us away from any notions of transcendence in general, or of a personal and loving God. Rather, they engender trust in our personal experiences of insight, grace, illumination, and even hope. Like the scent of a freshly cut orange peel, we know the presence of goodness in persons when we encounter them. If we reflect a bit, we can readily identify the saints among us who reveal a bit of who God is, for God is all-good and the source of all goodness in, among and around us.
We could be a bit intimidated by reading the lives of Saints, as so many of them can seem so different from how we think of ourselves. Comparison is not very helpful, since each of us is a unique person, called to develop our own particular gifts. Our saints might personally and directly challenge us, but always in a way that invites and encourages us to become ourselves, not "like" them or anyone else.
Thank God for saints as well as for Saints.
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Last Updated 7/15/17