They’re Our Family

I love the Saints of the Church. I love that they inspire me, and challenge me, and draw me closer to Christ. Sure, I have my favorites but I also love discovering new ones. I have a few on my heavenly committee that I turn to almost every day, year after year. When I read St. Augustine, it’s as if he’s writing directly to me, not to folks in the 4th century. The words of St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Maximilian Kolbe pierce my heart with their deep love of God. I struggle to be a follower of Jesus and the Saints struggled, too. That’s a great comfort to me. They lived lives of heroic faith and that’s what I want, as well. Heroic faith.  

In the little Baptist church of my childhood, the only people we ever learned about who weren’t in the Bible were Lottie Moon and Corrie ten Boom. The first was a missionary in China and the second helped Jews escape the horror of the Holocaust. But I never heard any mention of the Saints of the early Church like St. Justin Martyr, or St. Ambrose, or St. Jerome. There didn’t seem to be any great examples of the Christian life between St. Paul and Lottie Moon. Even my squishy young mind knew that couldn’t be right. Reading about the early Church and those Saints who emerged in the times of persecution and martyrdom really opened my eyes. I came to realize that there was a whole huge family of fellow Christians I’d never met. So I set about getting to know them. And I’m still on that journey. Like Blessed John Henry Newman (an Anglican priest who became Catholic) said: “To be deep in history is to cease to be a protestant…”. The Saints feed me with their words and the stories of their lives. They aid me with their prayers and I feel them kneeling with me at the Lord’s altar.  

I finally had to come to terms with what I was learning about the Saints. The more I read the more I found men and women living the Gospel and bearing amazing fruit. They planted churches all over the world, baptizing thousands. They suffered prison and torture and death for their Savior. They wrote of their struggles and their need for God’s grace. They founded hospitals and universities and monasteries that fed the hungry and cared for the poor and the sick (and still do to this day). If the church of my childhood didn’t offer these Christians to me as examples of heroic faith, then the church had to be wrong. If you failed to share the stories of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena with your children, then you were failing in your duties. The fruit these Saints, and countless others, have born for Christ and His Church is more precious than gold.  

It’s always easy to find a Saint you can identify with since there are thousands of them, from all kinds of backgrounds. Mothers and fathers, soldiers and doctors and students. If you believe the Bible, then you believe the Saints are alive with God in heaven. And just as we ask our family and friends to pray for us, we also ask the Saints for their prayers. These are folks who lived their lives as Jesus calls us to live. They’ve faced all the trials and struggles and sins that we’ve encountered and they have allowed Christ to transform their hearts and guide their lives—just as we hope to do. I hope you’ll do some reading and learn about these members of our Christian family who are alive in heaven today. I pray that their beautiful and holy lives will draw you ever closer to the Lord.  

“The deepest reason why the Church is weak and the world is dying is that there are not enough Saints. No, that’s not quite honest. The reason is that WE are not Saints.”

            —–Dr. Peter Kreeft

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian H. Gill
    Oct 01, 2017 @ 23:27:15

    The Saints as family. I like that.

    ‘Bible believing’ folks might not see it this way, but I think the idea is arguably ‘Biblical:’ John 1:12-14, 3:17; Romans 8:14-17; 2 and Peter 1:3-4.

    Reply

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