Today is a pretty special day – in our family, it is my husband’s birthday. In the Catholic faith, it is also the day Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta becomes Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. So, I feel as though our family will be celebrating in style for two reasons!
At a recent women’s meeting, the chaplain speaking to our group mentioned role models. We all have role models, regardless of our spirituality. Our role models could be family members, or even someone we don’t know. They could be a person who is unknown by many, or they could be known by millions.
One of my role models growing up was the author, Elie Wiesel. I never met him, but he touched me through his book, Night. Mr. Wiesel was a Holocaust concentration camp survivor, turned author and speaker. He provided countless opportunities for younger generations to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust, and provided all generations with the example, and testimony, of the power of forgiveness.
The chaplain informed our group that, “the saints are our role models to living a Christian life.” They provide us with stories and examples of their lives, allowing us to recognize that we don’t have to be perfect to make our way into heaven.
St. Augustine, for example, was a well-known womanizer, party-boy, and all around scandalous before his conversion to Christianity. Others, like St. Faustina Kowalska, ran away from home to join a convent. Some, like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, began life in the upper echelons of society, only to see their worldly riches and goods taken from them as they pursued a life of faith. Many saints, like St. John of the Cross experienced very dry spells in their faith – not feeling or experiencing God’s love and His work in their lives. Some saints, like St. Francis of Assisi, were in religious life; others, like St. Gianna Molla, were wives and mothers. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin were even a married couple, who raised several children.
The saints came from all walks of life, ultimately united by a common thread – their love of God, and their faith in His holy will.
The Catholic Church encourages faithful Christians of any denomination to study – not worship – the saints! The saints’ lives provide encouragement that we are not alone in our struggles, our experiences, and our individual journeys toward God.
Any soul can become a saint!
A saint is someone who has joined God in His kingdom. Like many individual role models, a saint can be someone entirely unknown to the vast majority of the world. I would like to think my now-deceased grandparents are saints! However, I don’t have a way to prove they are saints.
Last spring, at a women’s conference, a chaplain referenced the canonization of Mother Teresa. He told us that there are Three Faces of Mercy, to whom we can look when we think of living merciful lives, and partaking in the Corporal Works of Mercy. The Blessed Mother (Jesus’ mom) is known as the Mother of Mercy. St. Faustina Kowalska is known as the Apostle of Mercy, or the Secretary of Mercy, having written down messages of Jesus’ Divine Mercy per His instructions. And, Mother Teresa would become known as the Angel of Mercy, for having shown us, firsthand, how to live a life filled with mercy and compassion toward our neighbors.
The Catholic Church will canonize Mother Teresa today, recognizing she is in heaven with God. Unlike my inability to prove my grandparents are in heaven, the Catholic Church relies on the proof of two miracles to prove that a soul is in heaven. The Church knows Saint Teresa of Calcutta is in heaven!
Unlike the Mother of Mercy, and even the Apostle of Mercy, we are able to visibly see, what mercy looks like when we look toward Saint Mother Teresa. With the advent of television, live-streaming and reporting, we are able to watch how even the smallest act of love made the largest impact on those in her path.
As a mother, wife, friend, neighbor, and citizen of the world, I am not able to drop everything and tend to all the world’s needs.
However, one lesson I am learning from the guidance of Saint Mother Teresa, is the often quoted, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” And, if I want to change the world, I need to start by loving my family.
So as I celebrate my husband’s birthday today, I will be focusing on doing small acts for him with great love.
Join me as we add Saint Teresa of Calcutta to the Litany of Prayers.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!