The Catholic Church has a teaching called the “Communion of Saints,” which is basically a fancy way of saying that all believers are part of one big spiritual family. To put in modern-social-media terms, it’s like a massive WhatsApp group chat, except without any annoying notifications (all the notifications are prayers of intercession!).
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 962, “the communion of saints is “all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church…in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers.” The Communion of Saints is a vital part of Catholic theology because it offers support, guidance, and intercession for all the members of the Church, whether they’re alive or deceased.
Holiness Comes in Many Shapes and Spines
And speaking of devotion and admiration, I’m reminded of my oldest daughter’s (Amelia) obsession with hedgehogs. The girl is absolutely smitten with these spiky little critters. She’s got a hedgehog-themed tape dispenser, hedgehog toys, and even draws pictures of her imaginary pet hedgehog. It’s like she’s a walking, talking hedgehog-encyclopedia.
But here’s the thing: Amelia’s love for hedgehogs is a lot like the way Catholics feel about saints. Just like Amelia has a special devotion for hedgehogs, Catholics have a similar devotion to the saints, who are believed to have lived holy lives and to be in the presence of God.
Sacred Objects Prick Your Heart Open to God
Amelia’s hedgehog-themed tape dispenser reminds me of the physical objects Catholics use to help us in our devotion, such as rosaries or holy medals. It’s like a cute and fuzzy version of a saint medal. And just like Amelia’s pretend game of climbing a mountain with her hedgehog toy, Catholics believe that the saints can help us in our spiritual journey towards God.
Running the Race
The Communion of Saints is like having a group of friends who are always there to support you, like Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends Tails and Knuckles. My kids love the Sonic movie, and we even have a Sonic-themed board game that we can’t wait to play. In Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy, he talks about running the race and finishing strong. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 TImothy 4:7). Similarly, the Communion of Saints can give us the encouragement and guidance we need to finish our spiritual race with perseverance, just like Sonic and his friends run through obstacles to reach the finish line. And just as Amelia finds comfort in her love for hedgehogs, the belief in the Communion of Saints can bring comfort and hope to all Catholics.
In conclusion, the Communion of Saints is a significant aspect of Catholic theology that unites all members of the Church, alive or deceased. And while my daughter Amelia’s love for hedgehogs may seem like just a childhood fascination, it’s a reminder of the power of devotion and admiration. So, whether it’s a hedgehog or a saint, let’s all find something that brings us joy and comfort in our spiritual journey.
God works in mysterious ways. I truly believe he puts you in specific situations at precise times to allow you to grow in trust and faith in Him. As members of the Church Militant, we are called to be in communion with the saints in Heaven—the Church triumphant. Over the course of the past several months, I believe God called me to learn more about Saint Bonaventure. Having a background in theology, my inclination towards the Seraphic Doctor of the Church makes sense.
Rarely, does God act in such a plain or shallow sense. Along with being elevated to the status of Doctor of the Catholic Church, St. Bonaventure is also the patron saint of something quite ordinary, yet awkward at the same time—bowel movements. As a young child Bonaventure had a life-threatening sickness affecting his bowels. This sickness almost took his life. The intercession of St. Francis of Assisi cured him. Because of this, the Catholic Church recognized Bonaventure as the patron saint of individuals suffering similar illnesses.
My youngest son struggles with digestive and bowel issues. During a particularly rough evening, my wife and I prayed to St. Bonaventure, as we tried everything else medically to help our son. Our pleas for help to the 13th century saint forged the beginning of what I hope to be a lifelong friendship.
While St Bonaventure wrote on various subjects this article will solely focus on arguably his greatest work—The Journey of the Mind into God. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in St. Bonaventure: Literary Work and Doctrine calls this work, “a manual for mystical contemplation.” Providentially, Bonaventure pondered this work at the same place whereby St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata—Mount La Verna in Italy!
Stepping up the Ladder of Learning
As a teacher of theology, St. Bonaventure provides a gradually and steady path, specifically six steps, to grow in awareness and knowledge of God. Bonaventure puts it this way,
For through those six wings there can be rightly understood six suspensions of illumination, by which the soul as if to certain steps or journeys is disposed, to pass over to peace through ecstatic excesses of Christian wisdom.
no 3. The Journey of the Mind Into God
A prerequisite for beginning this journey is praying through Christ crucified. Jesus acts as a bridge; or, to use the imagery of Bonaventure, a ladder connecting us to the Holy Trinity.
Creation as Reflection of God
In Chapter 1 of The Journey of the Mind Into God, the Seraphic Doctor tells us that the first rung of the ladder to God is the created world. When we don the glasses of faith, we see nature pointing to the glory of God. Bonaventure refers to the created world as “the university of things” as a kind of stairway to climb toward God (Chapter 1 no. 2). Later in the chapter he describes the world as “a mirror through which we pass over to God. Plants, animals, mountains, oceans, the moon and stars above point to a Creator—because of the beauty and order within nature.
Bonaventure draws us up the holy ladder in his next chapter.
It must be noted that this world (the universe), which is called the macrocosm, enters our soul, which is called the microcosm, through the gates of the five senses…Man, who is called the microcosm, has five senses like five gates, through which acquaintance with all things, which are in the sensible world, enters into his soul.
(Chapter 2, no. 2)
Catholicism values the created order as not something to be jettisoned. The sacramentals utilize various forms of matter (things) because they hold intrinsic value and point had a higher order of being.
Human Mind—Mirror of the Trinity
Bonaventure brings the reader up another rung on the ladder of mystical contemplation by focusing on the natural powers of the human soul. According to the 13th century saint, the three highest faculties of humanity are memory, intellect, and will. He saws these three powers as a natural reflection of the Holy Trinity.
The Seraphic Doctor plainly declares, “According to the order and origin and characteristic of these powers (the soul) leads into the Most Blessed Trinity itself!” (Chapter 3 no. 5). As a perfect spirit, Bonaventure argues, God has memory, intelligence, and will. In the remaining chapters of The Journey of the Mind Into God, Bonaventure details how grace guides the soul in knowing and growing in knowledge of God, seeing God’s unity through His being, and finally viewing God as a communion of Persons in the Holy Trinity.
I had to read this work at least three times before I could write this reflection on St. Bonaventure’s gem of a work. This is not an indictment on his ability to write clearly or my ability to discern (at least I hope not!) Instead, any and all writings on the subject of God, in particularly a Trinitarian understanding of God has to be mysterious. “When you contemplate these, see, that you do not consider yourself able to comprehend the incomprehensible (The Holy Trinity). For in these six conditions (steps) you still have to consider what leads the eye of our mind vehemently into the stupor of admiration (Chapter 6 no. 3).
Journey with Bonaventure Today
Journeying into God is not an easy task, but it will certainly end with both wonder and awe. St. Bonaventure’s closeness to the God is quite evident in this spiritual treatise. If you are a parent of young children, such as myself, perhaps you may not have time now to read this holy book. Bonaventure can still help you on your spiritual and parental journey, because at some point your kid will get severely constipated. Ask the Seraphic Doctor for help. Believe me, it arrives.
If you have more time available for spiritual reading, I strongly recommend you add The Journey of the Mind Into God to your top ten list!
The teaching about the Communion of Saints is oftentimes a stumbling block for non-Catholics and even new Catholic converts in learning about the faith. I know my wife had a few questions about this when she initially converted almost a decade ago. Although I am a cradle Catholic, I try to put myself in the mindset of a non-believer to better understand other people’s perspectives about the Catholic faith. A common misconception about saints is that they provide a sort of magical aid or instant assistance on particular issues. Communicating with the saints solely for the spiritual relief they provide can lead to a sort of idol worship—this is not the intention of the doctrine about the Communion of Saints.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself (CCC 957).
Instead of leading us astray from God, communicating with the holy ones in Heaven is a great way to help increase our own holiness. Below are five reasons for why praying to the saints is not akin to usage of magic.
Other-centered vs. Self-centered
The primary aim of asking the saints for help through prayer is not about yourself. When I ask the saints for intercession it is usually to assist myself along with my family, friends, and the community around me. On the contrary, magic tends to be geared toward the individual. Fortune telling, Ouija boards, crystal ball reading, and other forms of magic are first and foremost focused on providing answers [usually regarding the future] for the person who uses the magic.
Call to Universal is Universal, Cauldron Brewing is a Niche Practice
Throughout the history of the Church, holiness has always been a universal call and not simply for priests and religious life. Saints appeal to everyone. In order for an individual to be officially canonized a saint they must help to a large amount of people. Truth is universal!
If a person truly lived virtuously their life would appeal to diverse population across time and space. For example, St. Augustine lived in the 4th century A.D., but his struggles with lust and promiscuity still relate to people in the 21st century who struggle with an addiction to pornography or treat sex as a casual act.
On the other hand, magic is not a universal practice. It is a niche field that appeals to a small section of humanity.
Saints Help You Become the Best Version of Yourself
Along with being focused on others and a universal appeal, communication with the saints in Heaven ultimately help you become the best version of yourself. From my experience when I struggle with sin, I reflect on individuals who struggled with similar temptations and ask for help. My particular vice is anger.
Saint Jerome was known to be quite hot-headed and rash with his words. He minced words with St. Augustine several times throughout his life. Through prayer, study of the scriptures, and the sacraments, Jerome learned to overcome his anger problems. Examples like him serve as good role models for me to mimic. True and honest communication with the saints through prayer will only lead to you finding a better version of yourself!
Magic Seeks Mastery over Material World, Sanctity Seeks Mastery over Spiritual Matters
Magic focuses on worldly matters and manipulation of matter. Alchemy seeks to transform ordinary objects into elements of greater value [i.e. other elements into gold]. Fortune telling seeks to grasp control of an individual’s future. Contrarily, praying to the saints leads to a mastery to spiritual vices and an increase in virtue.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Perennial truth exists in Aesop’s timeless fable The Tortoise and the Hare. Although he was much faster, the hare assumed that the race was in the bag. Instead of running consistently through the entire race, the hare lazily snoozed for half of the race. On the other hand, the tortoise knew that the race was long, but he was constant and diligent. By the time the hare woke up the tortoise crossed the finish line. Throughout literature magic is usually a device individuals use as a shortcut to solving a problem or ethical dilemma. Oftentimes the quickest and easiest path is not always equated with the most dependable option—at least not in the long-term outlook.
Whenever I have asked the saints for assistance the relief was not immediately granted. Occasionally I received help quickly but it is not a guarantee in prayer. Regardless of the time-frame on when answers arrive from my prayer request I am always sure to pray CONSISTENTLY and BE THANKFUL.
The saints help me love my neighbors better. Saints are models for how to grow in charity and humility. It is not enough to magically state, I love mankind in the conceptual sense. I meet the individual in the daily circumstances of my life. My spiritual helpers in the communion of saints draw me closer to Jesus and others!
Editor’s Note: This post originally published on July 20, 2018.
Saint Therese of Liseux once stated, “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.” Part of the universal appeal of the Little Flower was her simplicity and humility when approaching the greatness of God.
As a classic over thinker and a perfectionist, I tend to overanalyze sanctity. Making checklists or reminders on my phone, I try to cram a bunch of spiritual activities into a week all the while juggling a healthy work, life, and exercise routine! I am exhausted simply thinking about scheduling confession in on a Saturday around my three children’s naptime and giving my wife time to go to the medicine box as well.
At work the stress continued. The constant barrage of complaints, concerns, and questions wear down a person. I try to give myself a few seconds rest between the hustle and bustle. St. Therese taught me three important lessons this week.
The French saint wisely stated, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” I have previously written about the importance of small incremental steps to gain progress; however, it is always good to remind ourselves that great things start with doing the little things well.
Children learning to ride a bicycle do not normally go from training wheels to mountain/trail cycling overnight. Bumps, bruises, tears, and frustrations abound over the course of time when learning to ride a bike. The same is true in our pilgrim journey towards holiness. Missed opportunities of smiling at an annoying co-worker or your trouble neighbor does not help our advancement in our sojourn of sanctity. St. Mother Teresa matter-of-factly said, “You have to be holy where you are – wherever God has put you.” Following in the footsteps of both Therese/Teresa’s I hope to remember daily to start little—with baby steps—as a I grow in holiness.
Fueled by the Fire of Love
According to Genesis 3, the curse place upon Adam [and later all mankind] was work being toilsome and difficult. In fact, the day of the Fall may have well been history’s first Monday! All joking aside, we normally dread work because it takes away of play—an activity of something which we enjoy and love doing. St. Josemaria Escriva declared, “Either we learn to find the Lord in the ordinary everyday life or else we shall never find him.”
Very much in keeping with his spirituality, and likely a major influence for the Founder of Opus Dei, St. Therese reminds us that work need not be toilsome—as long as daily work is fueled by love. Watered by love—of God and neighbor—work blossoms into a sweet activity that paradoxically involves suffering but bring joy as well! “I understood that love comprises all vocations – that love is everything, and because it is eternal, embraces all times and places,” the sainted French nun declared.
Part of a Whole
The final piece wisdom the Little Flower of Lisieux imparted to me this week was the importance of seeing myself as a part of a larger whole. Now this is not to reduce myself to a small wheel in the cog of Catholicism—such as view is entirely utilitarian and reduces our relationship to other human beings as purely functional/technical.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 952, when speaking about the communion of saints, “Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy. . . and of their neighbors in want.”487 A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods.” As a husband and father, I learned my will must be subordinated for the good of the other members of my family.
Easily declared from my theological armchair, I struggle mightily in the midst of family life and the bustle of raising children. Here is where the example and spiritual maturity of St. Therese again teaches me. On the subject of being a saint, Therese stated, “I realized that to become a saint one must suffer a great deal, always seek what is best, and forget oneself.”
Depend on God
The youngest of nine siblings Therese learned quickly in life that she could not always be the center of attention—although she did admit in her Diary of a Soul that her selfishness pervaded her very earliest of years. The Little Flower’s constant message in her writings about her [and our] need to have a complete dependency on God our Heavenly Father helped shift my selfish mindset toward others and the Ultimate Other.
Start small, easy your daily struggle with the fuel of love, and remember you are part of a larger whole—members of the human race. These three lessons the young, but wise French saint taught me this week.
Have you ever received gifts or trinkets growing up that you continue to keep for sentimental or nostalgic value? Something a family member or a friend gave you on a birthday or for a special event that remains on prominent display in your home?
I received a prism on my 8th birthday. A simple but an intriguing item. I kept it on my bookshelf for many years. Unfortunately, I lost the prism. I still reflect (no pun intended) on the awesome light tricks: bending rays of light and creating miniature rainbows. The splendid spectrum-forming crystal helped in forming simple and joyful memories with my siblings. Since lacking a physical prism, I still use a metaphorical prism as a perfect analogy for explaining how diversity (of light) can be reconciled into a focus of unity.
The word diversity tends to invoke sudden reactions from people. Perhaps it is due to a hostile political environment or maybe it is because various entertainment sources poke fun at striving for differences of thought (refer to The Office Season 1 Episode 3: “Diversity Day”). Even within my own workplace I hear co-workers scoff or grumble at the idea of recognizing differences in opinion, culture, thought, or belief. Oftentimes, failure to identify the good that people’s differences can bring for the greater good lead to hostile environments, bullying, fractured relationships, and promote self-centered tendencies.
Rainbow of Holiness
Focusing on the ugliness of the differences in the trees leads to us missing out on the beauty of the forest when viewed all together—in unity. As a person who struggles mightily with change and a fervent desire to maintain consistency throughout the day, week, and year, I oftentimes fail to see how differences can promote unity.
Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, urges his followers, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). Prisms separate light into various hues. Analogously, the Holy Spirit bestows individuals various gifts (hues) of charisms. These gifts help spread the light of the Gospel. Only unified through the light of Christ may the saints provide various ways to communicate the Gospel. Saint John Paul the Great said, “Unity not only embraces diversity, but is verified in diversity.”
The Catholic Church teaches various paths to holiness exist. According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium,
“All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian Life and the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society” (no. 40).
God calls everyone to holiness.
I will not spend too much time on saints who received the sacrament of Holy Orders as the more famous saints that come to mind were priests, deacons, or bishops. According the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church” (1593).
Saints that immediately come to mind who received the sacrament of Holy Orders include the following (not even close to an exhaustive list):
Gregory the Great
Pope John Paul II
Francis of Assisi
Francis de Sales
The vast majority of the Catholic faithful consists of married couples and their families. However, when I was researching for this article I could not think of any married saint immediately off the top of my head. Perhaps it is because marriage is more commonplace than Holy Order. I think the diversity between a man and woman in the Mystery of the sacrament of Matrimony has been lost in our culture.
Not everything in marriage needed to be reduced to sameness between the spouses. If that happens a little bit of the Mystery may disappear. Marriage involves learning about your spouse. Love desires sacrifice. It’s not about conformity or coercion. I can’t expect my wife to be exactly the same as me. The sacramental grace received from the Holy Spirit helps us grow in holiness.
Diversity leads to unity.
Here’s a list of some married saints:
Louis and Zelie Martin (more famously known as the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux)
Monica (mother of St. Augustine)
Elizabeth Ann Seton
Joachim and Anne (parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Individuals not called to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders or Matrimony, often go on to live out the vocation of the religious life. The Catechism states the following about this vocation,
“Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior’s bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time” (926).
Saints who lived out this lifestyle provides an impetus to the Church in times of slow growth or decline. Among the saints who lived out their religious vocations include:
Benedict of Nursia
Teresa of Avila
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Therese of Lisieux
The fourth and final vocational path to holiness is the consecrated life. Such individuals do not receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Matrimony, nor life in a religious community. This vocation often gets misinterpreted as miscellaneous catch-all category for individuals either indecisive or uncommitted to the other ways to holiness. But the consecrated life is a valid and essential vocation needed in the Church. The Catechism reads highly of this vocation,
“The state of life which is constituted by the profession of the evangelical counsels, while not entering into the hierarchical structure of the Church, belongs undeniably to her life and holiness” (914).
This vocation in particular affords individuals a certain freedom, not enjoyed by the other vocational paths. People living out the chaste and consecrated life share their unique gifts with the world.
Saints who lived out this fourth path to holiness include:
Catherine of Siena
Joan of Arc
Diversity (and Unity) of Love
According to Lumen Gentium,
“For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another” (32).
While the ever relatable analogy of the Body and its individual parts testify to the truth of the unity of the Catholic Church in spite of its diverse members, I find that the analogy of the light and the color-spectrum also provides an interesting view on this seeming tension between unity and diversity. Along with my gift of a prism, I enjoyed looking at kaleidoscopes. The beauty would be lost without having light to shed brilliance on the kaleidoscope. In a similar way, the uniqueness, diversity, and individual excellence of the saints would all be in vain unless viewed through the prism of Jesus Christ.
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.
November 1st—the Celebration of the Feast of All Saints—among my favorite feasts in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Only the Feast of the Holy Trinity and the Most Precious Body and Blood eclipses All Saints Day in significance for me personally.
Who are the Saints?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped” (CCC 956).
In other words, the reason we honor the holy men and women in union in Heaven with God is because they draw of closer to unity with God. November 1st is not meant to be a Holy Oscars or a rolling out of a theological red carpet.
The Saints Point Us to God
Saints are witnesses to the faith and reflect the light Holy Trinity. I am reminded St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney when he said, “We are all like little mirrors, in which God contemplates Himself. How can you expect that God should recognize His likeness in an impure soul?” This likening of the human soul as a reflection, a mirror of God’s love can be found even earlier in Church tradition. St. Theophilus of Antioch [circa 2nd century A.D.] declared,
A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. If there is rust on the mirror his face cannot be seen in it. In the same way, no one who has sin within him can see God.
Below I formed a list, a sort of personal litany of saints, and applicable holy writings that have helped me grow in holiness and polish my soul to better reflect the love of the Holy Trinity.
Along with the names of canonized saints who personally influenced me, I outlined several Christian writers who lived fairly recently or are currently alive and are not officially canonized. Nevertheless, the books from the suggested reading still helped me grow in my Catholic faith.
***Note: I added the book(s) that I have actually read that have impacted me and deepened my relationship with God through the saint. This is in no way an exhaustive list –it is merely a list of saints whose writings and/or witness influenced me positively***
November Nourishment for the Soul
Mary- The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God by Venerable Fulton Sheen
Athanansius: On the Incarnation; Life of St. Antony
Pope John Paul II: Fides Et Ratio; Redemptoris Misso; Veritatis Splendor
Maria Faustina: Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul
Francis de Sales: Introduction to the Devout Life
Louis de Montfort: True Devotion to Mary
Terersa of Avila: Interior Castle
John of the Cross: Dark Night of the Soul
Therese of Lisieux: The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul
Luke: Acts of the Apostle; Gospel According to Luke
Josemaria Escriva: The Way
Pope Pius XII: Humani Generis
James: The Letter of St. James
Pope Pius IX
Pope Leo XIII
Francis of Assisi
Ignatius of Loyala
Ambrose: De Incarnationis Dominicæ Sacramento [on the Incarnation and Sacraments]
Thomas Aquinas: The Summa Theologica
G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy
S. Lewis: Mere Christianity; Screwtape Letters; Space Trilogy
Bishop Robert Barron: Catholicism
Peter Kreeft, P.H.D.: Socrates Meets Jesus: History’s Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ; Prayer for Beginners; Between Heaven and Hell
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings
Now these readings aren’t replacement for the Mass. Hopefully you find this list helpful in your spiritual journey!