Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Saint Ignatius, it is said, as well as a number of other saints, said, “Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.” Apparently, that is what saints do.
Saints may not be as rare an event as you may think. There are seemingly countless saints already canonized. If you look it up, you always see the round figure 10,000. “Over 10,000 saints, but no definitive ‘head count’ is known.” There are so many – even those who are canonized, not to mention the countless saints who have not received the formal recognition of the church. Did you know that 805 saints were canonized in May of 2013, the month that Pope Benedict resigned? Pope John Paul II canonized during his papacy more saints than had been canonized in all the years before him.
If you look at salvation history, there are three principle eras. The first, the time of the “Old Testament” or the story from creation up to Jesus, we call the time of the covenants (Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.) or the time of the patriarchs and prophets. This correlates to the time of the Father, when God was active in revelation and the preparation of the world for the event of his fullness revealed in Christ.
The second era, then, is the era of the Son, the 33 short years of intense interaction and witness of Jesus Christ himself. It seems like such a short time compared to the time of the Father! But the richness of what we have seen and heard “with our own eyes and ears” is infinite in its depth of meaning.
The third era, the “Apostolic Age,” or the era of the Holy Spirit, is often called the era of the saints. It is the time that God’s creation, redeemed and returned to its created perfection in the love of God, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and all is made new. In the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given at Pentecost (and at our Confirmation, sacramentally), we are made new creations and given the tools we need to put our life of faith, hope and love (the gifts of baptism) into action.
God is act. And his movement, his divine sharing, loving and saving is what the Holy Spirit is all about. To know God is to know the Holy Spirit. To have an experience of faith that is detached, disinterested, irrelevant — this is to say that you haven’t yet discovered who God is.
It would seem that saints get this. They understand how to put the joy and power of God’s life into action as witnesses of Christ’s unconditional love, willing to sacrifice their own comfort, possessions, even putting their own lives in the balance, if necessary, in seeking the greatest good.
That same Holy Spirit flows through you — can you feel it? We have been praying for nine days that the Holy Spirit might reclaim our troubled and confused hearts, that he might bring light to darkness, clarity to confusion, solace to distress, innocence to injury. Only the Holy Spirit can do these things. But often we get the messenger confused with the message. Saints aren’t saints because they accomplished all these things themselves — but they were somehow able to become transparent enough with themselves that they became beacons of light and allowed the Holy Spirit to work these wonders through them.
So let his gifts shine in you. They often aren’t gifts that draw a crowd or perform miracles. Sometimes they are as simple as being able to serve humbly, or encourage others to be better, or help others to achieve their greatness. Surely, the gifts of healing and wisdom and discernment are just as real. Look into your heart. What are your gifts? Everyone has them. And set them free to create, and you will show the glory of God in your life.
First, be a saint, and simply trust.
May God bless you.