Thursday, October 15, 2009

Transformed humanity

On Sunday our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints of the Catholic Church. Two were of particular interest to us in the United States – Saint Jeanne Jugan, founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Saint Damien de Vuester, the famous Belgian priest who brought hope to the lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. The Little Sisters have a number of homes for the elderly in this country and St. Damien’s work was in one of our 50 States.

During the Canonization Mass which our Sisters watched on EWTN there was an almost unnoticed remark made by the commentator. During the ceremony representatives brought beautifully encased relics of the new saints to the altar. Not everyone understands why as Catholics we venerate the relics of the saints. The comment: Relics (miniscule pieces of bone or material touched to their bodies) remind us that the canonized men and women were human, just like us.

I thought of that remark today as we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, an amazing woman of God. St. Teresa was human just like us - beautiful, witty, tireless in her work for the Lord especially in the midst of physical suffering. I encourage you to click on this link and read a story about her. Perhaps you can print it out and savor it at your leisure.

Here are some excerpts from one of her writings in the Office of Readings for today:
“If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend…. What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near…”

The Saints were very human, just like us. But in their lives they fell in love with Jesus and allowed Him to be their friend and noble leader. We can too! The Church reminded each one of us during the Second Vatican Council that we are called to be holy. As we read about the Saints and venerate their relics, let us ask them in prayer to help us respond to God's call to holiness and to His grace. St. Therese of Lisieux tells us it is doing the little things in life with great love that will get us to Heaven.

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