Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saints Revisited

A parishioner stopped me after Mass this morning as I was "meeting & greeting" to say "nice quote in the newspaper". I had forgotten that a reporter for our local newspaper had called me during the week to ask me questions about the Church's teachings about Saints. Here's the article (also, check out my previous blog entry back on All Saints Day last November):

Saint who?
Chances are there's a little-known saint with whom you can identify.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
The Express-Times

Even the non-religious know the most popular saints.

Like St. Joan of Arc, who saw visions and led an army. Or St. Francis of Assisi, who was a lover of nature and animals. And there's St. Jude, the patron saint of lost and desperate causes.

But who are saints Cyril and Methodius, whose feast day is today?

With the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches recognizing more than 10,000 saints, even devout Catholic and Orthodox Christians probably don't know many of these distinguished figures.

But if it means reading up to find about them, that's part of the point.

A little research into Cyril and Methodius -- who have a church named in their honor in Bethlehem -- shows they were brothers who worked as missionaries because they knew languages so well. They were so revered the Cyrillic alphabet was named in honor of St. Cyril.

The stories of the saints should be explored because they serve as models of faith, some local clergy say.

"The best equivalent we have for saints is that it's kind of like what the Hall of Fame is for sports," says the Rev. Jay Toborowsky of St. Mary's Church in Alpha. "It's a place where they've shown merit or in some way raised the game to a new level."

The point of reading up on the saints is to find a saint to identify with, clergy say. So that may mean reading up on the more obscure saints -- because they are just as good models of faith as their more famous counterparts.

"Once you get into heaven it's not like there are different levels of saints," Toborowsky says. "Sanctity is not a contest like the Olympics, where a fraction of a second can make a difference. All of us are called to finish the race, and whether it's the best known or the most obscure saint, they all enjoy the same rewards."

One reason to read up on lesser-known saints is that it increases the chances people will find a saint with whose story they can relate.

"There are so many different saints with different backgrounds and lifestyles, and one of the real values of the saints is that there's something there that people can identify with," says the Rev. Robert Fagan of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church in Palmer Township. "For example, some may be drawn to the humility of St. Joseph when they read about him."

So no matter how obscure the saint, there's something in their stories that has remained appealing through the centuries.

"The saints are like us and the saints have something for everyone," Toborowsky says.

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