“…in every generation, she (wisdom) passes into holy souls, and makes of them friends of God, and prophets.”
Saints are holy people. To be a Saint is to participate in, and to be an image of, the holiness of God. I love our Catholic tradition of recognizing Saints in heaven and how they inspire and intercede for us. I have been blessed to also know others who I consider “saintly”. These people may never be canonized, but in my eyes they exemplified the virtues of Jesus. Here are three who have had an impact on my life.
Courage and Perseverance: My Friend Kathy
I met Kathy through a church committee. She was one of the most vocal and active members, never missing a meeting and often sharing new ideas with us. She was the “prophet” of our group, gently and sometimes not so gently challenging us out of our comfort zone. She was a staunch advocate for the handicapped and marginalized in our community. Her outgoing personality made her well known among city and corporate leaders, LSU coaches, diocesan clergy, and justice advocates. She never missed a chance to vote, and often testified on behalf of the marginalized at city council meetings. She was resourceful, sharp, quick witted, and severely handicapped herself. Many years before I met her, she suffered a brain injury which left her prone to seizures and immobile on one side. What she lacked physically, she made up for in courage to speak as an advocate. I watched her fall through the cracks of many systems and be ridiculed for doing what she knew was right. Instead of giving up, she fought harder to remedy situations. She was an inspirational example of perseverance and courage despite handicaps. And she did it all with a heartfelt knowledge of God with her.
Faithfulness and Humility: Paw Paw Prescott
To some, my grandfather was rough around the edges. He was a farmer in Marksville, La. Although I never heard him say “I love you”, there was no doubt in my mind that he had a big heart full of love for us. Each time I visited him and my grandmother, he always had my favorite cream of soda drink and treats. He was always ready to teach me about the corn or soybeans he was growing, and he let me pick up the eggs the chickens had just laid. He went to church every Sunday, even though he was hard of hearing and probably couldn’t hear much of the mass. But the real way I knew he had a kind, humble heart was the way I watched him take care of my grandmother after she suffered a stroke at a fairly young age. The stroke left her partially paralyzed and not able to speak well. I can only imagine what a sudden, life-changing event this was for both my grandparents. Unable to walk or stand, my grandmother could no longer do the everyday things she would normally do around their house. And so my grandfather, in addition to getting up early to work in the field, took on the duties of cooking three meals a day, washing clothes, cleaning house, and driving into town to get groceries and medicines. I remember him carrying my grandmother from the bed to her wheelchair, and on days when she was weak, feeding and bathing her. I never heard him once complain about his situation. I watched him faithfully care for her until she died. He lived most of the rest of his life alone until his health failed and he moved to a nursing home. Even then, I still never heard him complain.
Compassion and Surrender: My friend Clara
Clara and I worked together for many years in a hectic, stressful environment. She was a calming presence in our office. After years of working together, she told me that her husband had just been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a neurological disorder that attacked the nervous system as well as the person’s personality. I watched Clara endure the hardships of caring for someone with a physically and mentally debilitating disease all while working full-time and caring for her two teenage daughters. The disease is hereditary, and shortly after her husband died, both of her daughters were diagnosed. Clara retired, but instead of an enjoyable chapter in her life, her retirement was one of constant caregiving and heartache as she watched her daughters’ struggle against Huntington’s, her youngest daughter died first, and then a few years later, her oldest. No matter how dire the situation seemed, Clara continued to be a compassionate caregiver. I saw her strength come from surrendering everything to God. To this day she continues to be active in Huntington’s support groups and research fundraisers.
In my mind, these people are saints. Not only because they endured many hardships, but also because of the way they carried out their faith. They lived out of God’s presence in their hearts. Each of them has taught me the importance of living your faith.
- Who are the holy people in your life? Spend time this week in prayer thanking God for their presence in your life.
- Pray with Leviticus 19:2 “Be holy, for I, the Lord God, am holy.”
Photo by Tim Doerfler on Unsplash