Dear Friends, 

Today is All Saints Day! Below is a piece by Sr. Joan Chittister on Saints that I wanted to share with all of you–enjoy! Pastor Kathy

In need of heroes
“Saints”—spiritual heroes of character and courage—are very elusive figures and not always all too comfortable ones either: They carry with them the ideals of ages often quite remote from our own, even, in some cases, psychologically suspect now. They seem to uphold a standard of perfection either unattainable to most or, at least in this day and age, undesirable to many. Their lives are often overwritten, their struggles underestimated and their natural impulses underrated. They have become a rather quaint anachronism of an earlier church full of simpler people far more unsophisticated, we think, than ourselves and whom we think ought to be quietly ignored in these more enlightened times. I disagree.

“Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes,” wrote Bertolt Brecht. And every day the crime sections of our newspapers prove the point. We could use a saint or two, perhaps, to raise our sights again to the heights of human possibility and the depths of the human soul. It might not even hurt to pass one or two of them on to children who are otherwise left with little to choose from as personal idols than what Hollywood, TV, and the music industry have already given them, of course.

Here are five saints to tell your children about.

•Julian of Norwich, a 15th century anchorite who was devoted only to God, gave the world three learnings that would change the very things we call holy: that God is mother; that fear of God is not humility, and that even though we sin all will be well. Those are brave, heroic concepts in a world where God who is all spirit had been reduced to the notion of a male judge.

•The Baal Shem Tov was a man with an eye for the spiritual and a song in the heart. Nothing clearly authentic is known about him but nothing much less has been forgotten about the man either. The Baal Shem Tov insisted that the presence of God lurked in life as it was, that it was there for the seeing, that to live life joyfully was itself the real task of life.

•”The purpose of prayer, my daughters,” Teresa of Avila wrote, “is always good works, good works, good works.” Given her heroic and unending attempts to make religion spiritual and the church holy, she of all people had the right to say so. She did not use prayer as a refuge; she used it as a beacon. Learning to persist in the pursuit of good should make saints of us all.

• John XXIII is really remembered for making the political, the scholarly, the efficient, the clerical and the papal, human. What stands as a monument to his heroism is the indictment of ageism by an old man who turned a system upside down to make it new again. Now, thanks to him, age is no excuse for doing nothing.

• Joan of Arc’s heroic commitment to conscience over authority is a mighty one. There are some things in life that belong to God alone, Joan implies: human life, human responsibility, and human will. Joan of Arc is patron of those who hear the voice of God calling them beyond present impossibilities to the fullness of conscience everywhere.

—from The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister