The Saints, The Pivotal Players

In the course of the history of the Catholic Church there have been men and women whose lives so transformative and inspiring and who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, conformed themselves so drastically to Christ that they powerfully impacted not only the Church but the whole world. We call them saints. They are important because they have taken seriously Jesus’ summon to evangelize the whole world (Mt 28:18-20). If they were alive today they would know how to “make the Church of the twentieth century ever more fitted for proclaiming the Gospel to the people of the twentieth century”. They would know how to re-evangelize “countries with ancient Christian roots that are abandoning the church in great numbers, reach out to entire groups of the baptized who have lost a living sense of the faith, …and so live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel.” They would know how to respond to the church’s call for a new evangelization.cs

Although we celebrate particular saints on a daily basis, they are held so highly in the eyes of church, a whole day is dedicated in their honor. That’s what ‘All Saints Day’ is all about. These are men and women who have lived such exemplary and extraordinary lives, the whole world is fascinated by them. they have made the world a better place by their peculiar choice of life. their supernatural and intoxicating fragrance of their holy lives inspire countless sinners to change their lives from a filthy dunghill to a place of prime rest. What is beautiful about them is that anyone, regardless of position, class, gender, race, location, condition, can befriend and invite them in his/her intimate lives fearlessly. With them, one’s secrets are always safe; advices are drawn from the wisest reservoir. They are an absolute and sure measure of one’s growth in virtue. if we borrow lessons from their authentic lives, it is a guarantee that we will be wise and do well. They have lived in different period in history, but their relentless commitment to seek the meaning of life, find purpose and happiness, true love, and alleviate others’ pain make them the most sought after figures in the whole world.

lf-at-8phIn the eve of this great feast of All Saints, it is with a spirit of gratitude that we should reminisce these outstanding men and women who have helped us so much in our journey of self-discovery. Who of us can find the adequate word to express the gift that is St. Augustine to this world? Had he left us simply the Confessions that would have been sufficient for it is a depthless treasure whose bottom is fathomless. How many are happier and more virtuous and living life more meaningfully because they have read him? Will we ever know the influence that St. Therese’s Story of a Soul has had on people from all walks of life? Everyone can relate to her life notwithstanding her too short life. Therese of Lisieux enamored the world with the most beautiful way of approaching life. in her ‘Little Way’ is the key that unlocks the secret box of life’s meaning. What to say of mother Teresa, Catherine of Siena, St. Lawrence, St. Gregory, St. John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis de Sales, Blessed Laura Vicuna, Our Blessed Lady, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Dominic Savio, St. John Vianney, St, Monica, St. Thomas More, St. Giana, St. Rose de Lima, and countless men and women whose examples have touched millions? I call them my “Little Army”; they have pushed me everyday to become the masterpiece I was created to be.lv

What about them that captivate and intrigue the imaginations of the whole world, be it religious, indifferent, Nones, atheists, agnostics? I think it is their extraordinarily ordinary lives; they unlock something supernaturally natural in the heart of everyone. They have taught us how to fulfill what is required of all of us, but failed in daily, namely, “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

They are icons of simplicity. Life can be so complicated. They have simplified everything; they have shown us that as long as we keep our eyes fixed on the North Star i.e. God, we will weather anything. They know the one thing to and for which it is worth giving their lives, and they comprehend what to let swung by. Their way of life is life a draft of spring water in the desert heat. Their bright normalcy, simple modesty, and plain humility reveal to us how to tame our complex and proud bestiality. They show us what we could become if we stay on course.

The saints are natural. Although they lived a life worth holding as a mirror for all to look at themselves in, if you had met them, there would be nothing particular extraordinary about their lives. As Diognetus beautifully expounds in his letter, “they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in as long as it is not contrary to reason and right conduct. They play their full role as citizens”. Yes their virtue stands out very pointedly, but they were not unusual. “They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of grace. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. They live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven”. They were a natural flower in the garden of the world, but one not easily succumbs to the power of the scorching sun. Many a time, they went unnoticed because they fit in so well. but they have won the prize; they are at peace forever.Host_004

All of them show us that our vocation is primarily love. How we live that love can be left to our creative imagination. They showed us that even the most uneventful life could become holy by living that life with love. They are highly influential models of sanctity because of the simplicity and practicality of their approach to life. Millions are touched by their intercession and have imitated their lives as a mean to get to the ultimate end.

Many of them transform their surroundings not by the power of their intellect, not by their ability to befriend the powerful and the wealthy, not by their position, but by their commitment to a life of virtue. Through that, they’ve accomplished the unimaginable. Through a life of witness to the gospel, fasting and penances, long hours of Eucharistic adoration, countless hours in prayers, they changed lives. Let these powerful men and women change yours. Learn how they find the most important thing and master it. Learn how they formed habits that helped them master the most important thing. What’s your purpose in life? Find one. Develop the habits that can help you to achieve it. Embrace or discard whatever that can lead you to the purpose. As mark twain once said, the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why”. You don’t find to look far; the day you were born is definitely a special day. That’s probably one of the happiest days for your parents, but the reason why you’re here is to love, worship, reverence God, and by doing so saves your soul. How best to do this is what the saints showed it. Seat at their school and learn.

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The Toughies of the Synod

A new revelation is needed to solve this puzzle. The Holy Spirit needs to arise anew upon the land of the Magisterium if a solution to this enigma is to be found soon. This one is not easy. This is the second synod within a year, yet the same concerns and barriers linger. Yes it is about the Synod on the Family currently happening in Rome under the watchful eyes of Pope Francis. The three most burning issues are deemed the “vexed questions” by the media. Here they are: Should divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed to receive the Eucharist? Can the church recognize some positive values in cohabitation? How can the church take a more positive, welcoming approach to homosexuality? For some, the answer to these questions is clear-cut. Others are persuaded that a pastoral solution is possible.

imagesThe dilemma is the following: a) some divorced and remarried or cohabitating catholic couples maintain that they are starved for the Eucharist; b) the world who has gone bombastic about homosexuality in the last five years. Both of these groups are demanding to be given a seat of honor at the cathedral of the church while Jesus says “whoever divorces his wife… and marries or cohabits with another commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). Further yet, neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10).

As of now, there are no pastoral answers for these pressuring questions. So the synod is an effort to discover an answer. That would be swimmingly easy had revelation not been very pronounced on these issues. The Pope, the bishops, every pastor, the faithful understand there is a problem, but everyone who understand revelation also understand that whatever solution we find must be faithful to the living tradition of the church.

Iran1If we were a parliament or congress, we could just reverse the law and move forward. But we are not for good or for ill. Whatever we have to pronounce on this topic must be compatible with the “hierarchy of truth”. That means the solution must be measured against the overarching economy of salvation to see if it fits it. Every element of the faith, every particular issue we decide on takes its meaning and force from the central doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The Christian life is an ever striving to be conformed to the Trinitarian life, who is an indissoluble communion of persons. Faithful to her duty of being the mirror through which the three persons see themselves, she knows that she has no authority to make decisions that do not correspond to their ideal. Hence, no solution is within our power so far.

The discussion has focused a lot on mercy and rightly so because the ministry of Jesus Christ, continued by the church, has mercy at its center. However, mercy and the truth about the human person are intrinsically linked. Out of mercy for this people who long to receive the sacraments, we must do something, but no matter how merciful we are, we have to act within the limit set by He who is the Truth. Concerns to find a pastoral answer cannot trump the truth. Hopefully, prayer and fasting can provide clarity in this one.

family_0About whether there’s value in the so-called cohabitation with a view to marriage, some African bishops would like this to be dealt with according to each region’s culture. in Africa, marriage is negotiated between families and realized in stages, with the couple living together at a certain point before the formal marriage. The delay in marrying is often linked to the man’s inability to come up with the dowry immediately sometimes— interesting huh! They cohabit with a view to marriage. So culture is very entrenched on the issue; the church in the west needs time, wisdom, and prudence to find the best way to proceed on issues like this. Now should the church recognize Christian value in such cohabitation? What do you say?

In an interesting speech given recently at the synod, Pope Francis reminds everyone “the synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, [who is] called to speak authoritatively as ‘the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians.’” We hope he also lets the Holy Spirit speak in him. Let us pray while our fingers are crossed in hope of a bright future for the church centered on Christ and his teachings and where people feel they belong and care for.