“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower,” stated Albert Camus the 20th century French Novelist. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Colorful leaves carpet the lawns in my neighborhood. I enjoy seeing the visible transformation occur on trees and watching animals prepare for winter. My wife’s birthday is during October—the middle of fall. I am indebted to God for the gift of my marriage. Without my wife, my fervor for Divine Mercy and St. Maria Faustina—her confirmation saint— may not exist!
Reflecting on autumn, my wife, and the Polish saint allowed for me to have a profound revelation: the first week of October contains an all-star line-up for saint feast days!
Five of my personal favorite saints, and historical favorites among Catholics as well, have a feast day in the first part of October. On top of this amazing realization, October is also dedicated to the Holy Rosary and respect for all life. I will be dedicating other posts on these topics so I will focus on the five feast days of five stellar saintly role models:
My children and I ask for the intercession of our guardian angels every night before bedtime. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church number 336, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.202 ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” God sends his messengers from Heaven to keep us safe and remind us of His Presence.
Therese of Lisieux
According to St. Therese, “Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.” Known as the Little Flower, the saint’s words provide a fresh perspective on my daily living and struggles. As a person who focuses on problems as something to be overcome, I sometimes place an emphasis on the amount of effort I have to put forth on a task. I also struggle with desiring recognition toward my works. Instead, if I focus on love as St. Therese teaches us, my life will be more joyful!
Francis of Assisi
Francis serves as an example of holiness, but for me, it is a personal reminder for my college days. I attended Franciscan University graduate schooling. The legacy the Italian saint left on me is truly immeasurable.
His transformation from a wealthy individual to a beggar of Christ is tangible example of the Gospel lived out. Struggling with envy and greed myself, I am able to look to Francis of Assisi as a role model. Lord make me an instrument of peace like your servant Francis!
No other 20th century saint, besides John Paul II and Maximilian, has impacted me as much as St. Maria Faustina. Known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy, the Polish nun is to the 20th century what St. Paul was to the 1st century Church—the evangelizer of truth to the Gentiles! Sister Faustina helped console my wife after her best friend from high school died by suicide.
The Polish sister led my wife to convert to the Catholic faith as well! She became instrumental in deepening my relationship with God over the past decade. St. Faustina is probably the biggest influence on viewing God first as a merciful Father as opposed to a vengeful Judge. Through St. Maria Faustina I heard God’s truth in her words, “Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul. In suffering, we learn who our true friend is.”
Teresa of Avila
The final heroic example of holiness the first week of October is St. Teresa of Avila. Her life differs from Maria and Therese as the Spanish saint lived a much longer life. Teresa also experienced more of a 180°-type of conversion.
As a young adult, Teresa enjoyed the allure of the world. It wasn’t until her entry into the convent that the Spanish nun learned the importance of meditative prayer. Teresa’s The Interior Castle is a profound spiritual work that explores the vastness of our spiritual journey. This spiritual treatise has helped aid me on my journey.
While autumn is akin to a second springtime, my communion with the saints during October is like a second spiritual springtime for me. My guardian angel, Therese of Lisieux, Francis of Assisi, Maria Faustina, and Teresa of Avila reflect God’s merciful and transforming love.
Through communion with these exemplary role models I am given hope that my personal vices of greed, envy, and pride are able to be overcome! The Church teaches “We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!” (CCC 957). I pray the communion of saints will continue to guide you in your path toward holiness and ultimately lead us closer to God.
Obviously, the answer is yes ☺(who doesn’t want more information about Therese of Lisieux?!)
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Thank you for reading and hope you have a blessed day!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 28, 2019.
According to C.S. Lewis, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” Recently, my faith has been lacking so I was missing the miniature and miraculous letters forming a story before my own eyes. I have previously written about my family’s journey of finding out our youngest son, Josiah, has autism spectrum disorder, but I will provide a short recap for any new readers.
Josiah’s Journey [So Far]
In the summer of 2017, my wife and I noticed our son struggled to make sounds and form words. Because Josiah could not communicate with us he started to bang his head on the ground when he got frustrated. This habit became so bad that we were basically homebound unless both my wife and I were off work at the same time. On good days we could only take our son out for one errand as any transition proved too overwhelming for him.
We knew something had to change—he had to get better help then what we could offer at the time. In December 2017, Josiah was evaluated and diagnosed with autism. We enrolled him in a birth to three program offered by the city. He received speech, occupational, and development therapy. Eventually, his speech therapy was increased to weekly hour long sessions. It took a lot of time, focus, and diligence, but with consistent therapy with professionals and reinforced at home Josiah made tremendous gains. He was able to learn to talk and show us his needs for water, food, a preferred toy, and diaper changes. This summer he said his first 10+ word sentence!
Power of Words
Over the weekend, Josiah hit another milestone goal—telling me his full name and recognizing the letters to his first name. As I was in the playroom getting him dressed, Josiah pointed at the letters on the wall. For each kid, my wife and I hung their names in wooden letters in their rooms. We recently moved Josiah into the older kids room so the wooden letters remained in the “new playroom” (formerly Josiah’s room). Our exchange centered around those letters:
Me: “Yes, Josiah that is your name on the wall. What letter is that [pointing to the ‘J’]?”
Josiah: “J, O, S, I, A, H!”
Me: “And what is your name?”
Josiah: “Jo-sia-ah, Fabian, Sha-qin [Chicoine]!”
Practice Makes Progress
Some people have told my wife, “Aren’t you hoping that scientists find a cure for autism? Then you won’t have to waste all the time doing therapy.” This is the wrong thing to say to a parent of children with autism. Thankfully, my wife is quite professional and always tactful otherwise a vicious verbal exchange may have ensued. Autism is not something to be cured. Instead, it is something to be explored. Different does not mean diseased. Unfortunately, people naturally fear the unknown and sometimes treat it with disdain.
The reason I continue writing daily and sharing my thoughts is because I want to provide hope, perspective, and joy to families and individuals going through similar situations. Our world does not readily accept differences. I want to be a help change that. I want to bring tangibility and reality as to how autism looks in our little boy.
The Gift of Healing
Before he was born, I struggled mightily with depression. Our previous pregnancy due to miscarriage. We named our unborn child Jeremiah. Josiah proved to be God’s healing gift to us. His name literally means “healer”. All our triumphs are intricately tied to our struggles, doubts, fears, and worries parenting Josiah. We all have a cross to bear. Our cross is not more difficult than most people’s. It is merely different. Josiah’s smile and giggles are infectious. Hearing him tell me his name meant everything in during that moment in the playroom.
Do you have special needs or have a family member with special needs? I would love to hear your story. Please feel free to share in the comments.
Miracles do happen we just are too busy to see them sometimes. Our son’s special needs forces me to slow down and view the world differently. I am thankful that I embraced that change of pace this past Sunday. I pray for the strength and humility to be more willing and ready to learn from my son in the future!
Being Catholic has many joys, but one aspect I truly cherish about my faith is the vast community of Catholics worldwide. Millions of people from all walks of life have followed the path of Jesus and embraced his teachings. As a mere mortal, trying to live up to the standards Christ exemplified can be challenging, but thankfully, we have a source of inspiration to keep us striving – the lives of the Saints.
How Does a Person Become a Saint?
Contrary to popular belief, a Saint isn’t a perfect person who has lived their life without sin. Here are the basic requirements:
Extensive evidence of the person living in such a spirit-filled way that they are worthy of imitation based on their virtue and goodness,
Having died a martyr or as a hero for their Catholic faith
Casting aside an immoral life for one of exemplary holiness
In addition, for canonization to Sainthood, two verifiable postmortem miracles are required. A person may be beatified or given the “Blessed” designation with only one demonstrated miracle.
After several phases of a comprehensive examination of the person’s life and legacy, the Pope ultimately chooses those who are to be formally declared as Saints.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Saint?
The process for being declared a Saint is a lengthy one. Typically, the canonization process cannot start until five years after the person’s death. Throughout the many phases of canonization, witnesses offer evidence that the person lived a holy life and conformed to church doctrine.
While many people have lived exemplary lives or died under heroic conditions for their Catholic faith, identifying and certifying a bona fide miracle can be challenging. However, Pope John Paul II streamlined the path to Sainthood. Now, miracles “only” require empirical evidence that a phenomenon took place (such as miraculous healing) that lies outside of scientific explanation.
Drawing Strength and Inspiration from Catholic Saints
Learning about the Saints can help us when we struggle with our faith because all of them started as ordinary people. However, by living their beliefs, they turned ordinary lives into extraordinary ones. While there are more than 10,000 Saints formally recognized by the Catholic Church, here are a few of the well-known ones you may wish to turn to for guidance and support in your everyday life.
Pope Francis has called 2021 “The Year of St. Joseph,” and as the father of Jesus, he can teach us a great deal about humility, love, and trust in our marriages and family life. It is through Joseph’s selfless actions that Mary brought the Son of God into this world.
Saint Francis of Assisi
St. Francis is best known for his love of animals and the environment, but his compassion also included the poor, disabled, and sick. He preached that all living creatures are children of God and worthy in his eyes.
Saint Martin de Porres
Martin de Porres’ parents were a Spanish nobleman and an African or indigenous woman. As a young man, he suffered social rejection due to his mixed-race ancestry and was refused entry to the Dominican order. However, he remained true to his faith and cared for those on the margins of society while promoting peace and forgiveness. He is now known as the first Black Saint of the Americas.
Icon portraying Mary as Theotokos
The Blessed Mother Mary
As the mother of Jesus and the Catholic Church, Mary provides an excellent example of virtue and faith in God. Mary offers comfort in times of trouble, an attentive ear for discernment questions, and a loving gaze when joy and happiness abounds.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
St. Thérèse of Lisieux is a very popular Catholic Saint loved and prayed to by people from many walks of life and faiths. St. Thérèse offers us her “Little Way” of finding holiness throughout the common moments of everyday life. For those struggling to find God, her words and teachings offer a path to connection and joy.
Saint Joan of Arc
In popular culture, Joan of Arc is known as a hero and a martyr for her role in the Hundred Years War in the early 1400s. While much of her story today includes both facts and legend, her courage and love for her faith cannot be denied. Her connection with God has inspired many over the centuries. Whenever courage is needed, whisper her words: “I am not afraid, for God is with me. I was born to do this.” You’ll feel strengthened and transformed!
Embody the Saints’ Teachings in Your Life
So, the next time you’re struggling with a task at work, feeling frustrated with family life, or wondering how to deepen your connection to God and your faith, turn to the Saints for advice and guidance. Their stories for turning an ordinary life into a spirit-filled extraordinary one are always there for you!
About our guest blogger
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She works with a variety of Catholic businesses and often covers developments in decor, interiors, and events. She also enjoys writing about parenthood and faith.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 31, 2017.
A few years ago, I started volunteering as a mentor to an elementary student at a local Catholic school. I was nervous at first because this was the first time I served as a mentor to a young student. On that first day, the school counselor thought it would be nice for the student to give me a tour of the school. On this tour, I was making small-talk and the topic eventually led to saints [Icons of saints are present at every classroom door].
I posed this simple question to the student, “Who is your favorite saint?” The reason I received from him was simple but also tightly packed with theology! The student quickly responded with a sheepish grin, “Fr. John is my favorite saint!” Though I was half-tempted to qualify his statement by saying, “Well, I meant technically a canonized saint…” I stopped myself. Since that day I have pondered this revelatory statement at least once a week.
The more I reflected on my mentor student’s statement the more and more theology I realized was packed into it. Here are a few truths I gleaned from his statement:
Holiness can start now
Sanctity is not reserved for after our death or even later in our earthly lives. To reference my recent post on purgatory, I used to believe purgatory was a “period” similar to an extra period in a sports game. Yet, my student’s reply is simple and true, our priest is like a saint to him because he knows holiness when he sees it.
Priest, like saints, reflect God’s light
The moon, which reflects the sun’s light, is a common image the early Church Fathers used to describe Mary, who reflects the son’s light. Similarly, we are called to be that same reflection. Christ even goes further when he calls his followers in Matthew 5:14-16 to be the “light of the world”. Perhaps the best truth that came forth from my student’s statement is summed up best when placing it next to St. Athanasius’ famous quote from On the Incarnation. He says, “God became man that man might become God”. I truly believe our parish priest is on that same path.
My parish is doing something right
I should qualify this by saying our parish is doing something right by allowing God’s grace to work in the people I have encountered there. My student’s proclamation, “Fr. John is my favorite saint!” is certainly a testament to our priest’s strong faith and reverence for the sacrament of Holy Orders. But I am sure he will agree with me in saying there is another source at work besides himself. It is the work of the Trinity.Not only at work in my student’s heart, but God is working through the dedicated teachers, administrative staff, and parishioners alike.
Many people tell me I am having a positive impact on that elementary student’s life each week I meet with him over lunch. What I do know for certain is that I get more graces than I give in mentoring. This “living theology” is something I never experienced during my graduate studies. I thank God every day for the joy He gives me each week in serving Him.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2, 2019.
This week’s installment of the Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. will feature parallels between the great Old Testament prophet Moses and Jesus Christ. Except for King David and the prophet Elijah no other figure in Judaism had as much influence as Moses. Uniquely, God privileged Moses with helping to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, safeguarding of the 10 Commandments, and appearance at the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Catholics read the Bible as a unity. The Old Testament prefigures the New Testament and the New fulfills the old. A primary method for studying the Bible is called typology. According to John A. Hardon, S.J. in Catholic Dictionary,“A biblical person, thing, action, or event that foreshadows new truths, new actions, or new events. A likeness must exist between the type and the archetype, but the latter is always greater. Both are independent of each other.” Moses is a quintessential Christ-like figure in the Old Testament and Jesus is viewed as the New Moses in the Gospels. We will focus on three major Jesus is the New Moses: both teach with authority, both perform miracles, and both lead people to a better life.
Sermons on High Places
I used to teach high school Old and New Testament. On the section focusing on St. Matthew’s Gospel the major theme I reiterated to my student was to focus on how Jesus is the New Moses. In fact, the evangelist arranged his gospel into five discourses as a teaching mechanism to recall the five—the Pentateuch. Traditionally, Moses is believed to have written the Pentateuch.
Among the countless appellations given to Jesus in Scripture and Tradition, Christ as Teacher accurately describes Matthew’s version of Jesus. St. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae cites from Matthew 23:8, “[Jesus] He proclaims the singularity, the uniqueness of His character as teacher: “You have one teacher,”(25) the Christ (# 8). The Jews thought of Moses as the teacher of the Law so hearing Jesus’ claim as the supreme teacher certainty shocked them.
Both Moses and Jesus preached from mountains. The former taught on Mount Sinai and the latter preached the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. While the teaching of Moses extended merely to the nation of Israel, Jesus’ Good News extended to all the nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus’ teaching did not abolish the law of Moses, rather perfected it. According to Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, “In the Sermon on the Mount, he recapitulates and gives added depth to the commandments of the second tablet, but he does not Abolish them (p. 70). Moses received the word of God on stone tablets. Jesus is the Word of God himself!
Another similarity between Moses and Jesus are the miracles they perform. In Exodus 7:14-24 Moses turned the Nile River to blood. Jesus’ first public miracle contains transformation as well. John 2:1-12 records Christ’s turning the water into wine. Likewise, the manna provided in the desert (Exodus 16) finds a greater example in the New Testament in John 6. Jesus tells his disciples the following,
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
Moses’ other famous “miracles” into sending the plagues on the Egyptians due to the obstinate heart of Pharaoh. Although ultimately saving the Israelites, these plagues devastated their enemy. Jesus’ miracles save without the destruction. He healed lepers, raised people from the dead, and calmed storms. As an instrument of God, Moses performed great miraculous feats, but as the Son of God Jesus’ miracles are greater!
Destination—The Promised Land
The final connection between Moses and Jesus centers on a destination. Living under bondage of Egyptian slavery, the Israelites initially welcomed their freedom. In Exodus 16:3 they lamented to Moses, If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!” Similarly, Jesus’ Victory over Death brings about the option for entering Heaven— only if we love God and neighbor entirely! Freedom from our sin, initially feels good, however, after some time, like the Israelites, begin to long for the “comforts” that sin provided!
A major difference between Moses and Jesus is that the Promised Land ultimately did not satisfy whereas Heaven will bring ultimate satisfaction. St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote, “In heaven, the soul is certain that she loves God, and that he loves her. She sees that the Lord embraces her with infinite love, and that this love will not be dissolved for all eternity.” The destination Moses’ promised was physical and limited. Our home in Heaven is eternal and everlasting!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares in paragraph 128,”128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,104 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.” Moses prefigures Jesus in a vast amount of ways besides being a teacher of the Law, working miracles, and freeing from slavery. In the future, I hope to provide a further analysis on how Moses foreshadowing Jesus Christ. For more information about biblical typology please check out the links in the related resources section. Thank you for joining me in this installment of Why Catholic Must Have Bible A.D.D.!