Saints: The Shining Stars
Sr. Mary Marta Soza
Last month I watched with delight the beatification Mass of a 15-year-old boy, Carlo Acutis, a lover of the Eucharist and a friend of the poor. Blessed Carlo, whose body was found incorrupt, called the Eucharist: “My highway to heaven.” He died of leukemia in 2006. His role models were the little Shepherds of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta; the adolescent St. Dominic Savio; the young Jesuit St. Luis Gonzaga; and St. Tarcisius, the martyr of the Eucharist.
Like Blessed Carlo, many Saints throughout history followed the way of holiness because of the example of other Saints. Ignatius of Loyola decided to travel the road to sanctity after reading a book on the lives of the Saints. The sermons of Saint Ambrose deeply convinced Augustine of ultimate truth and converted him from his pagan ways. We need Saints to inspire us and to show us the possibilities that we all have to be holy, free, and happy.
Not only are the Saints a source of inspiration for others, but the effects of their holy lives endure forever. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus died at just 24 years of age, but it was revealed to her that she would be doing good on earth until the end of time. When I think about the ripple effects of a holy life, I can’t help but think about our little Christina. Through the acceptance of her sufferings with unwavering trust in Jesus, she inspired many to draw closer to God, and now from heaven, she continues to do good here on earth, even in poor countries. She might not be a canonized saint, but we know that heaven is full of anonymous saints.
Today the Church celebrates All Saints’ Day, not so much because the Saints need our honor or praise, as St. Bernard says, but most of all because we need to be lifted by their example and need to see true role models worth imitating. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). That’s why we love and venerate the Saints because they were imitators of Christ. They knew they were loved unconditionally by God and bravely allowed the Holy Spirit to change them, transform them and form Jesus within them.
Blessed James Alberione, whose inspiration was St. Paul, puts it succinctly: “The way of sanctification is the way of Christification.” The Saints reflect the light of Christ because they have been “Christified.” It is Jesus living in them serving the needy, taking care of the sick, preaching and teaching… and bringing the love of God to everyone in a tangible way. St. Francis of Assisi allowed Christ to be formed in him so much so that he received the marks of Jesus’ nails in his hands, so we can see in him, not St Francis, but Christ serving the poor, the leper, and the outcast.
These wonderful stars come in all shapes, colors, backgrounds and personalities. When I visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in L.A., I was struck by the beauty of the tapestries on the walls. They show over one hundred Saints from all parts of the world throughout history. These Saints are represented by real people of different ages, colors, sizes and ethnicities. As I entered, these awe inspiring tapestries immediately spoke to me loud and clear of the universal call to holiness. Holiness is not the privilege of a few people, but the birthright of everyone, “for it is written: Be Holy because I am Holy.” (1Peter 1:16)
On this beautiful Feast Day of All Saints, we need to ask ourselves: why not resolve today to be a saint? It does not require the possession of great talents or the accomplishment of extraordinary works. It is a way of following Jesus in faith and simplicity and of living in constant conversion. We can do it if we allow the light of Christ to dwell within us and to illumine the dark corners of our hearts. Our real, God given vocation, is to be Saints, to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14) Inspired anew by the light and life of our favorite stars, let us encourage one another to become Saints!
Mary, Queen of Saints, pray for us.
HAPPY ALL SAINT’S DAY!!
Sister Marta was born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. Early in life she experienced an earthquake which claimed thousands of lives and destroyed her hometown. Later, political unrest, Communism, and persecution, especially of young people, caused her to migrate alone to the USA where she met new challenges. After a family tragedy and deeply affected by these adversities, Sister Marta began an inner search for answers to the mystery of life, suffering, truth, and the deepest yearnings of the human heart. She found the answer in Christ. By Divine Providence she met (and joined) the Secular Franciscans in Fresno, California, in 1994, and later, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master where she discovered, with joy, an undeserved call to the consecrated life. Although a late vocation, she was admitted to the Congregation in 2000. Today, Sister Marta serves the Lord and His Church through her ministry at the Archdiocese of Boston.