My son informed me the other day that he wanted to go to jail. When I asked why he simply told me, "so I can hang out with John the Baptism". We all chuckled, but it did make me think of the importance of saints in our lives. Those of us who worship in the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic tradidtions view saints almost like extended family members. We see their icons not as something to worship but a reminder of what we should be emulating. We also see them as our "speedy helpers and intercessors for our souls"...just like a friend who we would call in time of great need. Those of the protestant persuasion look at the heros of the faith, like Hudson Taylor and Corrie Ten Boom, as people whose lives should serve as a powerful example to us all.
It is important to tell the stories of the saints to our children just as it is important for our children to have a strong prayer life and dedication to our Lord through the reading of Holy Scripture and participation in Christian fellowship. You may wonder why I would put the lives of the saints on or near the same level of importance as the Holy Scriptures. It is because the Scriptures tell us how to live, how to follow the Lord, what to leave behind, how to train our children, how to treat others with love and mercy, etc. The lives of the saints are amazing windows showing us people who actually turned those Holy words and instructions into a reality, many times at the expense of their very lives. To read that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind and strength is powerful. But to see and read about someone who lived it and suffered for it is part of making scripture live and breathe. Through the lives of the amazing faithful we are inspired to continue to take up our own cross and follow Christ. Their suffering and struggle comes to us as refreshment for our souls as we continue on this long journey. Of course there are many many people who have fought valliantly for the faith, or suffered long, or stood firm whose names we will never know this side of heaven. The scritpures tell us that if the all the miracles performed by Jesus were to be written down the would could not hold all of the books. Thankfully, through the grace and direction of the Holy Spirit, the things that were most necessary for our instruction and edification were written down. Likewise, though we can not know all those worthy of being known as Saints of God, we can know of some who teach us by the example of their lives and encourage us toward that finish line.
Corrie Ten Boom - Saved many Jews from the hands of the Nazis though it cost her her freedom and the lives of many family members.
St. Sophia along with her daughters Sts. Faith Hope and Charity - Refused to deny Christ even though they met with many tortures and even martyrdom for those sweet girls 12, 10 and 9.
Jim Elliot - Along with 4 other missionary men gave their lives in the jungles of South America even though they had the means to defend themselves because "if we kill them they go to hell. If they kill us we go to heaven." That sacrifice turned the hearts of that violent tribe to Christ when no one had been able to reach them before.
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us. -Amen