One of the things I appreciate about our Catholic Tradition is the celebration of the Saints in our Liturgical calendar. Their heroism, their simplicity of life, their vision for something greater, their love for the Gospel and their dedication to Jesus, their care for the poor, their commitment to education, their unselfish devotion to care for the sick and establish hospitals, or their courage to stand up for what is good and holy, I just really stand in awe when I am able to read and find out more about the lives of these holy characters. Being reminded of those holy women and men of our past gives us reason not only to pause, but more importantly a renewed perspective of how we might alter the course of our lives today to reflect such a commitment in Faith. I know it might seem strange writing about the Saints today, when we are not even close to November 1 (All Saints Day), but I was reminded of holy examples on two occasions these past days.
The first experience that captured my attention was getting ready for Liturgy on Thursday, February 17. This date happens to be the memorial of the Seven Holy Founders who are the founders of Fr. Paul Novak’s religious community, The Servants of Mary or just simply: The Servites. I realize my extremely limited knowledge of the Founders pales in comparison to Fr. Novak’s and I have no business treading these waters, but what grabbed my interest that day was just being reminded again of the environment out of which the Founders launched their ministry. Living during the time of the 13th century in and around Florence, Italy where commerce and trade were booming, noble families were feuding over power struggles and people were pretty much consumed by the distractions of wealth and riches. Historically speaking, spirituality and “church life” were taking a back seat to the consumerist society of their day. Amidst all of that, there were seven men of noble birth who decided to meet and pray frequently and eventually over time they chose to devote their lives to reflection and prayer. These Seven Brothers went on to establish themselves as the Founders. There is something about the simplicity of their story that intrigues me and sounds so familiar today: feuding, power struggles, a tough economy, a struggling church. The brothers responded in a very simple way: let us get together and pray. What I appreciate at the very least is the brothers’ commitment to reminding themselves Who is at the center of their lives. May the example of these simple people of noble birth from many years ago continue to remind us of our God who stands at the center, amidst all the chaos and conflicts of our lives.
The other occasion that reminded me of holy examples happened this past week when I celebrated Mass for the students of Frances Xavier Warde School. On Wednesday, February 23, we celebrated the gift of heroes in our lives and through the help of our second graders, they reminded us of the women and men of history who helped make the world a better place because of their goodness and contribution to society. Whether they have the official title of Saint or not, may the famous and not-so-famous people of our lives help us to lean in to the mysteries of God so we might lean more intentionally in to building up the Kingdom of God.
Have a great week!