Saints and Their Meaning in Our Lives
Calling All Saints
In the life of the church, on the last week of October or the first week of November we take time to recognize “All Saints Sunday”. It seems our Catholic friends are at an advantage when it comes to All Saints. They can very clearly vocalize what the saints are, why it is important, and how it fits into their theology. For Protestants, we mention the communion of saints in our creeds that we say on occasion, another mention during some of the communion liturgy, and then All Saints Sunday. Outside of
that, who are the saints to us?
In a familiar sense, the saints from our lives are those who have left this earthly world for the heavenly one. Our ancestors who dreamed dreams for us when we were but a twinkle in some far-off star. Friends who walked along lives winding paths with us. Mentors who affirmed our gifts to get us to the next chapter of our being. Children and younger ones who inspired and brought happiness but left us too
soon. These are the saints of our lives, the ones we remember on All Saints Sunday.
It is a holy and righteous act to remember these saints. The scriptures are full of accounts, from Genesis to Revelation, of the people of the book exclaiming that “God remembered them”. In times of war, pestilence, hardship, and in times of jubilee- prophet, author, and apostle recall that God remembered them and remembered God’s covenants to the people. When we take time to remember, we live into a divine act, following in the path of a God who also remembers God’s people. In addition, when we remember our saints, there is an unspoken understanding that these people in our lives were part of the good creation of God. A creation that deserved remembrance and honor.
In our history, there are many larger-than-life saints. One can only become a saint after death, so amongst their ranks are the apostles, popes, church fathers and mothers- Mother Theresa is in the process of being named “a saint”. But the aspects of what makes these people saints are a reminder to the living. In some form or another, they were considered odd or eccentric in their lifetimes. Theresa’s commitment to the hungry of Calcutta was unusual. St. Francis would preach to the animals claiming that everything needed to know the glory of Christ. Saints Felicity and Perpetua were two women executed by the Roman government in the early days of Christendom for refusing to leave the church.
The lives and models serve as a reminder to us, the living, that we can aspire to and are called to the eccentricities of life, the fringes of society, the unique. And when we think of those saints from our lives that have departed, we too think of their unique qualities that can never be fully replaced. So, on this All-Saints Sunday, we remember those who have departed us, but we also remember that we are called to embody those qualities that are unique, and eccentric. Qualities demonstrated by the Saints but originated by Christ who fed the hungry of his time, knew something about being a lamb, and laid down his life for his beliefs. When we follow in this path, folks may say we are odd, strange or eccentric- but they might equally confess you a saint.
May God be with you until we meet again,
Paul M. Freeman, MDiv