May the Lord give you peace!
Let us return to Pope Francis’ book on how to become a saint, titled: Rejoice and Be Glad. Paragraph 6 falls under the subtitle: “The Saints ‘Next Door.’” This paragraph highlights an important fact that is very often overlooked or even dismissed, namely, its not just about imitating the canonized saints. Rather, there are saintly people around us here and now; very possibly around your dinner table.
The Pope’s intention in reflecting on the saints among us is to awaken us to notice holiness. If we are not aware, we do not notice. If we do not notice, we won’t be inspired. There is a saying that the life of faith, including the life of prayer, is more caught than taught. It is caught by the passion and love that we witness in others. In fact, St. Thomas says that we need living witnesses to grow in virtue. We must be inspired.
We can’t just abstract, i.e., think of love, we need to see love lived out among us. Let me offer an example. I live with Fr. Chris and Fr. Matt at the rectory. Living in such close quarters we are aware and notice one another’s weaknesses and strengths. (I am sure that they could provide a litany of my many weaknesses ). One thing that I notice about Fr. Chris is how he graciously spends time after daily Mass visiting with people. He really enters into conversation and genuinely loves spending time with the parishioners. I have been inspired by his example of presence and have “caught” the inspiration to be more present to people, even to, as they say, “waste time” with people. Something that I notice about Fr. Matt is his attention to detail with the parishioners of the Church of the Magdalen. He works hard to remember people’s names and their stories. He really pours himself into knowing each person by name and connecting with them. His attention to the particular aspects of each parishioner is admirable and it has been inspiring. I have caught the inspiration to spend more time getting to know parishioners by name. It’s a daunting task with 5000 parishioners and an average memory, but being known by name is important to building a parish as a community of friends.
Pope Francis states that the “Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people.” These living witnesses inspire us to ascend from “Glory to Glory”, from greater love to even greater love.
Are you aware that God has placed you among saintly people, who are striving for holiness? Do you notice these people? What are their names? What do you admire about their life of faith and charity? Will you allow these people to inspire you so that you might be caught up in greater passion for your own life of faith and charity?
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor