Today is a day for memories about people we knew and some we have only heard about. The people in our lives that we know exemplify the heart of Christianity. Today I remember my grandmother (my father’s mother) who daily knelt down on her prayer dieu and recited her rosary and other prayers. That prayer dieu is in my oldest daughter’s home today and each time I see it I know my grandmother is now worshiping God with the saints in heaven.
Today I remember Fr. Camille, my first spiritual director as I entered the diaconate and until his death. If ever there was a holy man it was Fr. Camille. His faith, his wisdom and his love of God was always an inspiration to me. I remember the lessons he taught me just days before his own death about our final surrender to God. I had never realized until then how much he had surrendered and yet told me there was more to surrender. I am trying each day to do as he did and daily give God more and more of myself.
Today I remember a man I never met, Desmond Doss, who won the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Pacific campaign of WW II. The movie Hacksaw Ridge which will be playing in theaters in a couple of weeks tells his story. He wanted to serve his country but was a conscientious objector and refused to kill another person. Yet he fought the military for the right to be in combat without carrying a weapon. The front lines are not the place for a person who refuses to fight. A soldier depends on the people around him to have his back because their lives depend on it. Yet, Desmond won the respect of his brothers in arms for never abandoning any of his brothers. He defined his duty as caring for and protecting them when they could not defend themselves due to injury. Desmond Doss is just one of thousands who did and do heroic things so we can live free from tyrants. We remember them as heroes on Veterans Day but we fail to recognize their sacrifice makes them saints. I remember them today without ever knowing their names.
I remember the young who have died long before they should have. I think and pray for them as I still visit the memorial garden in my former parish of St. Basil’s and read each name on that memorial. I see the faces of many of them as I read their names and remember the special gift they were to our community of faith.
I remember today the many husbands and wives I visited as they battled terminal illnesses. The talks we had and the faith we shared has shaped me in a way that leaves no doubt as to the mercy of God. They are saints that have blessed me and who gave me much more than I was ever able to give to them.
I remember the families who have adopted children and the mothers who brought them to term. I especially remember today those who adopted children with special needs. These are the saints whose sacrifice is only known to a select few.
You and I know we can continue this remembering for a long time. The truth is you and I have a savior who has freed us from the sins which separate us from his love. We may not look like saints but we are the very saints Paul speaks to in his letters. Oh we know full well our sinfulness and our weaknesses but that does not change the fact that God knows how to overcome those faults in order that we too can be just like all those saints we remember today.
God made us a promise that we would follow his commands by his giving us a new heart and pouring his Spirit into us. God promised us a new life and told us there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
All those people who have never been officially recognized as saints by the church do not care about not having a feast day in their name. They are in the presence of God and with all the heavenly host they are giving praise to God.
One day we will join them but until them let us pray “… that the eyes of (our) hearts may be enlightened, so that (we) will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ep. 1:18).