SAINTS OF OUR TIMES
All Saints Day reminds us that in every generation there are exemplary men and women who remind us of God’s goodness through the way they live their lives, suffer adversity, and are magnanimous in success and prosperity.
The saints of our times are people whose faces and lives can be graphically shown by photographs or even videos. They will be recognizably human as the photos show and as they were in this life.
Their photographs reflect and enable us to recognize the saintliness of those human beings we regard as exceptional for their everyday–often quiet–goodness and sometimes heroic generosity of spirit. They are not among the much-photographed men and women leaders in the church or religious life who are “public saints.” Their photos are in albums showing family or church or school occasions. They don’t make headlines–except perhaps in local papers.
A prayer about all the saints from the Oxford Book of Prayer 1985, begins: “We thank thee, O God, for the saints of all ages.” Thanks, because these saints are gifts from God to those who know them. They are the men and women like our parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends whom we’ve felt privileged knowing on our common journey through life’s twists and turns.
The prayer goes on: “for those who in times of darkness kept the faith burning; for the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it; for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world.” Translating that into life as we encounter it: they took in and raised children, who through death in the family or other misfortune, were in need of a second home; rose to the occasion when sorrow or suffering came; sat up with sick friends or children; fed the homebound and the ill; provided hope and trust to those who felt hopeless; created joyful occasions and laughter; gave time to the disagreeable or lonely or otherwise neglected. They quietly met life’s challenges as they occurred. And that’s just on the domestic side.
In the public sphere, these men and women used their professional skills to work for a just society, resisted dishonest practices in the workplace, mentored fledglings, remained faithful to their commitments, faced life with cheerfulness and hope-even when working two jobs, engaged in social action for the common good, risked themselves to serve or save others, and bore adversity patiently. Many did what had to be done and were consistently good, quiet about fulfilling their commitments.
We are grateful “for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with thee.”
We have met them. Our lives have been touched by them. We cherish their memory. And they make us better people.
These are those beloved by God whom we honor on All Saints Day.