Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

May 4, 2014

Opinion: Thank the saints in your life

EFFINGHAM — ‘It’s extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person can be.”

At one time, I used to collect quotes. I had several notebooks filled with them; not sure where they ended up, however. While I don’t remember who said the aforementioned quote, I recalled it while reading about the recent canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II.

If a saint is someone who lives a good, virtuous and exemplary life, then the Catholic Church was certainly right in choosing these two popes for sainthood. They were, and will continue to be, role models and an inspiration for others.

But can’t the same be said for others who will never be canonized? I have read of many people who lived very holy lives. I know of many people who are living very holy lives. If you stop to think about it, you know them too.

Some of them are Catholic. Some of them are from other faiths and denominations. And still others aren’t affiliated with any religion whatsoever. Can’t they still be considered saints?

I recently finished a biography of Albert Schweitzer. What do you know of him? Do just a little research into his life and what he did. How could he not be considered holy and saintly?

Pope Francis recently stated that there should be more “saints without cassocks and without veils.” A case has been made for Dorothy Day. Hers is another biography you should explore. Here was a woman who certainly fit the mold of saint, but also that of humble sinner.

Most every saint I have ever read about seems to have had a checkered past. That’s not true for every saint, but the ones I gravitate toward certainly did. They are more human to me.

Aren’t we all possible saints? In Romans 1:7, St. Paul (no saint himself for a long time!) says we are “called to be saints.” But some answer the call better than others.

We need look no further than our own community to find saints among us. We are neighbors to people who quietly and humbly live saintly lives. Many are so quiet and humble that we often don’t recognize or know them. But we should, and we definitely should try to emulate them.

In a lecture he gave in 1907, John XXIII said that we tend to make saints larger than life when they actually are more like the neighbor down the street. Saintliness, he said, results from the art of self-giving love. It flows from dying to self.

I couldn’t agree more. The saints I know are not about “me, me, me.” These people have truly died to self; they have made others their mission in life. They have reached out to the marginalized of society. They have made a difference. What they do on a daily basis may not constitute a miracle, but how they do what they do is certainly miraculous!

I would love to tell you about some of the people I consider saints. I think a “Saint of the Week” feature would be extremely inspirational. But the saintly people I know would be too embarrassed and uncomfortable with such recognition. If I were to mention any one of them by name, I am quite certain that I would see their not-so-saintly side!

We may not see the halo, but we can feel the aura. The world and our lives are better for the saints in it. To all of the extraordinary ordinary people who “walk the walk” and live saintly lives, I say

“Thank You!”


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