The saints are men and women who are normal like us and who have allowed God to work in their lives. None of us are meant to be exactly like them. We are meant to be like God in his image and likeness. We are meant to be ourselves and meant to allow God to work in and through our own individuality, our own humanity.
Thomas Merton once wrote “for me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore, the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.”
I read about a Jesuit priest who as a boy prayed to St Jude the patron saint of hopeless causes and I laughed when he explained why he prayed to St Jude.
” I used to envision God as the great problem solver, the one who would fix everything If I just prayed, shared enough, used the correct prayers and prayed in precisely the right way. But when God couldn’t fix things, (which seemed more frequent than I would have liked) I would turn to St Jude. I figured that if it was beyond the capacity of God to do something, then surely it must be a lost cause and it was time to call on St Jude.”
Saints are like older brothers and sisters to whom one could look for advice and counsel.
The Catholic Theologian Lawrence Cunningham wrote in his book, The Meaning of Saints, that the saints also serve as our prophetic witnesses spurring us to live more fully as Christian disciples.
Yes, all we need is Jesus, but God has given us these companions of Jesus to accompany us along the way, giving us their wisdom, experience and encouragement.
GOD renews the church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of His unchanging love. They inspire us by their heroic lives and help us by their constant prayers to be the living sign of God’s saving power.
This is a prayer of the Church showing us that saints can inspire and encourage us to live for Christ.
Often in reading the lives of the saints we recognise parts of ourselves in them or parts of our journey. They struggled often just like us, their dilemmas were just like ours and they show us that with God’s grace and courage we too can prevail!
They have struggled with the same human weaknesses as me. Surely Thomas Merton, who struggled with pride, understands how I feel struggling the same. His prayers and encouragement help me in my journey with God.
For courage, I pray to St Joan of Arc, for she needed courage so many times in her life as a young eighteen year old, trying to listen to God’s direction to lead the French army to victory, when she was not a soldier and did not even know how to ride a horse. Why would other soldiers follow her into battle anyway? She was only a girl and not of royal blood or authority.
I get encouraged and a renewed outlook on life when I read how some of the saints lived before God came into their lives and after. The transformation gives me hope for myself, or others on the journey with God. Many of them would not have been picked by us to follow them in character and deed before. But with Jesus transforming power have become a leader, servant and follower of Christ role model.
I encourage you to read and meditate on the saints, pick some to study their writings and lifestyle. They will teach us things about humanity and God that they learnt on the journey of life and we might learn also.