When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Growing up Catholic, stories of martyrs and pious people were about as exciting as the statues of saints peering down from the rafters in plastered perfection. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t connect with the saints as models for what it looks like to be fully in touch with God and fully alive.
Years later, when I moved to Chicago and became a parishioner at Old St. Patrick’s, I had to reckon with the saints again. Not only did a huge statue of St. Patrick himself stare at me from the center of the sanctuary each week, but the parishioners, many of them Irish, went around invoking the saints like they were old friends.
About that time, the church was in the process of restoring the Celtic stained glass and stenciling renowned Irish artist Thomas Augustin O’Shaughnessy created in the 1900s. One day I noticed that the niche along the north wall closest to the sanctuary was empty. I just figured that one of the saints was getting a makeover. Then I overheard a parishioner explaining, “we leave that niche open so people can imagine their favorite saint sitting there watching over us.”
Suddenly my imagination opened up and I thought of all the “saints” in my life I’d put in that niche. It wasn’t a huge leap to imagine the saints of our Catholic tradition as the same kind of good and loving people who’ve helped people through the ages.
On this Feast of All Saints, let us be grateful for the holy women and men who have lived their faith and shown people the way throughout history. Let us also call to mind the saints in our lives whose example and love and kindness have made all the difference.
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Ignatius Loyola, man of great desires and perfect humility, pray for us Francis Xavier, courageous warrior ever seeking new souls for Christ . . . Peter Faber, first companion of Ignatius and cherished friend of all . . . Edmund Campion, fearless orator and source of courage to the persecuted . . . Peter Canisius, scholar, builder, and teacher. . . Robert Bellarmine, rich of mind yet poor of spirit . . . And all the Saints of the Society of Jesus, Pray for us.
—Adapted from the Litany of Jesuit Saints (click here to download Jesuit Prayer Cards)Please share the Good Word with your friends!