” When the Saints go marching in…”

Today is All Saints Day.

Let me tell you a funny story. Last year All Saints Day fell on a Sunday. So the processional hymn{ I sang in the chior , this was before I focused my ministry exclusively on Christian Education.} Anyhow, the Pittsburgh Steelers{ MY TEAM} were scheduled to play the New Orleans Saints later that day. Anyhow, it was tough on me to stand tall & sing this hymn on the very day that the Steelers faced the Saints, the local favorite team here on the Gulf Coast. With God’s grace , I made it to my seat in the choir stall & after the opening collect my rector said” Did you notice what hymn we marched in to today? It’s when the SAINTS go marching in. Not when the Steelers go marching in, Sarah.” :O) Ha! :O)

Anyhow, when growing up pretty much in the Presbyterian tradition I knew little  about saints. My Roman Catholic family members sometimes wore medals with certain saint’s pictures depicted on them but I never understood why. After all, my thoroughly Protestant background taught me to pray ONLY to the triune God & that saints should not me ” worshipped”.  In spite of my Calvinistic Christian education during my teen years, I began to research { this was way before the Internet} saints as they * really* fit into the Christian Tradition.  Those of us of the Catholic Christian persuasion do not pray to saints. I repeat: WE DO NOT pray to saints!

It frustrates me when well-meaning but misled Protestant friends belittle the tradition of my Church, including her saints.  Though do not think one ned have  experiential ” I came to Jesus” moment in order to be a Christian, I respect that form of Christianity as much as I respect my own.

For instance, when I contemplate the life of St Catherine of Siena{ one of my patrons} I think about how her life & works set a good example for all Christians, but for me in particular. I also identify with St Benedict of Nursia. Benedict’s life & writings  showed me that a way of  ” radical hospitality” was a way to more closer walk with God. Catherine of Siena taught me that some women, in fact DO have spiritual  gifts for homiletics. To me, a major part of living out St Benedict’s ” radical hospitality” means learning about other faith traditions,including but not limited to other forms of Christianity.

As I continue this pilgrimage of life with my sister & brother Christians I’m appreciating more & more the Tradition of honoring saints on their feast days. { the day of their death…NOT their birthday, as I’d originally believed when I started this Anglican journey} I’ve read several books by saints & commentaries on their lives, works & theology .While some of their works are entirely too deep for my mind to grasp right now, others resonate with me immediately.

Saints were regular people, just as are you & me. They had their foibles, quirks, bad choices, illnesses & some even doubted their own faith. But that did not deter them from accomplishing great works for the Church in the Name of Christ.

If you are so led, research a saint and educate yourself on the life & work of him or her.

Amen.

Feast of All Saints 2011

One of my patrons: St Catherine of Siena

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