Thursday, November 12, 2009

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

I've been neglecting some things recently, this blog included.  The issue of neglect came up in my Confession last week, when the Lord revealed to me that I've also been neglecting a devotion to the saints.

This wasn't entirely my fault in the beginning.  There was hardly any mention of the saints during my religious education or even at home.  There were no statues in church of the saints (save one--and only one--of Mary).  If I had ever paid attention to the words of the Roman Canon, Eucharistic Prayer I, when it was prayed during Mass, I doubt I would have heard the invocation of all those names of the apostles and martyrs.  After all, it is optional to invoke those saints during that prayer.

But I'm an adult now, and I am responsible for my own ongoing religious formation.  So just as I was responsible whether or not to accept as an adult what little I was taught as a child about Christ and His Church, so am I responsible for strengthening my relationship with the Lord and growing in a deeper understanding of the Faith.

I also realized that I know who Paris Hilton, Jon and Kate are, but I barely know Denis of Paris, John of the Cross or Catherine of Siena, let alone Athanasius, Elizabeth Ann Seton, or Polycarp.  Which group should have more influence on my life?

So during the past year or so, I've been trying to develop my devotion to the saints.  I've begun to invoke a different saint's intercession during daily morning and evening prayer.  In fact, praying the Liturgy of the Hours (or in my case, Magnificat), has helped me appreciate the rhythm of the Church's life and introduced me to more saints than I could have imagined.  I also have my own patrons:  Andrew, who is both my middle- and Confirmation namesake, and Anthony of Padua, finder of lost items.

These are all good practices, but I could do more.  For instance, I only know snippets of a few saints' lives--whatever I've gleaned from homilies, books and articles, and websites--which is very little.  So at some point, I'd love to get my hands of a copy of Butler's Lives of the Saints.

Imagine growing up without siblings, neighbors, grandparents, or friends teaching you how to behave in the world and toward other people.  A devotion to the saints is important because they are the community of believers who teach us how to behave in the Kingdom.  Their lives are schools of instruction.  They show us what it means to love Jesus with whole heart, soul, mind and strength.  We ask their intercession because the prayer of the righteous has great power.  They show us our own heavenly destiny if we only abandon ourselves to the Lord

All you holy saints of God, pray for us.