My Little Lives of the Saints booklets were precious possessions. As a child I pored over each account and studied the accompanying pictures. Each saint looked so serene and perfect. None were old, wrinkled, or overweight and all looked the picture of health, thanks to the enhanced color my older sisters added to their faces with colored pencils.
As I got a bit older, I read about my favorite saints in a larger book called Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints. The woodcut portraits were a bit grimmer but still showcased these figures in idealized fashion.
I left off with the saints for quite a time as their stories didn’t seem very relatable to my life as a busy mother and parish minister.
When I began to enter more fully into the study of contemplative prayer and practice I came across Carol Lee Flinders beautiful book, Enduring Grace, on the lives of seven women mystics.
Writing about the saints for Sadlier’s Catholic Identity Links drew me into the lives of saints from both ancient and more recent times. Both experiences reignited my earlier interest in those role models who were challenged, tested, and stretched by their faith.
Rather than angelic figures with upturned eyes the saints became flesh-and-blood figures who have opened their hearts to the boundless love of God. This led some of them to do extraordinary things, such as found schools, hospitals, or monasteries, or to write great theological tomes. Others lived simply and made their mark through humble service and acts of compassion.
Part of the beauty of the liturgical year is celebrating the cycle of saints’ feasts and revisiting their stories. It’s a great way to face the challenges in our own lives as well as to draw inspiration from the women and men who constitute the great Communion of Saints.
With this in mind, I am initiating a new series within this blog that will focus on the saints and mystics. Now and then you will find an article about a saint who feast is around the corner or about a holy person whose life and witness serve as both inspiration and impetus to rekindle our own faith in God’s endless love.
All are mystics in their own particular way.
While that word may sound daunting it simply expresses what Flinders describes as one who makes the “experiential discovery that the source of all meaning – the God of truth, beauty, and love… is a living presence within herself of himself.”
As such, the saints and other holy persons have much to teach us all about the call to a mystical vision.
…For teachers and catechists. Find stories of the saints and activities to share with your students and families by visiting Sadlier Connect.
Download my Prayer for All Saints and use it in your home or parish to recall the saints how have inspired you.