I have never watched an episode of any of the SURVIVOR series of shows. I am sure that in some circles being the last person standing, i.e. the last one to escape being voted out/off, means “winning.” And surely, when a natural catastrophe strikes or an accident occurs, being a survivor is a triumph.
In life, however, I propose that we all want to do more than survive. We want to THRIVE.
As we celebrate the lives of ALL THE SAINTS and as we recall our own loved ones who have passed from this life to eternal life, I ask us to set our sights on THRIVING IN LIFE and rising above what comes our way.
I am sure that each of us has a personal favorite among the Saints. Maybe our namesake, Henry, Louis, Catherine, Francis. Maybe we believe that we have been inspired by Maximillian Kolbe, Peter Claver, Paul, Katharine Drexel, Francis. Maybe we turn to Anthony when we cannot find something. I believe that there are at least four things we can say about all the Saints.
1. They all lived LIFE! Saints were/are real men and women who live life fully. Saints are not made of wood, plastic, or stone. Saints hurt, experienced pain, and died. Saints were/are not angels. They do not walk with their feet six inches off the ground and with their head in the clouds. They dealt with the things you and I deal with everyday.
Saints come from every walk of life. They knew/know what it is to work. Saints were born into human families. Saints sinned and repented — many sinned greatly and reversed course in life. Many saints “worked the last nerve” of their parents before they got it right.
Saints were popes, priests, and nuns. Saints were/are single men and women. Saints were married, Saints had children and grandchildren. Saints were school teachers, carpenters, tentmakers, soldiers. Saints were of every race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and religion.
We can say that Saints enjoyed the things of earth while loving the things of heaven.
2. Saints lived life as it was, not as they wished it were.
Saints may have been discouraged, but they did not stay discouraged. Saints may have gotten angry, but they did not live in anger. Saints may have experienced great physical pain, but they never lived a “woe is me” life.
Saints knew the world was imperfect. In faith, Saints were able to see things differently and to see beyond the problem, beyond the day, beyond the pain.
All along the way, Saints felt that God was with them and would show them glory that lay beyond if they endured, if they persisted, if they stayed the course. They lived with Trust in God and the promise.
3. Saints knew what was passing and what was eternal. Saints knew what was important and what was essential.
We may live in a world where media puts temptation before us in vivid ways everyday. But temptation was always a part of the world. Self-service and self-promotion was always before the human person. Saints DEVELOPED an ability to say yes to the best and no to the trivial. Saints chose life over death. Saints always balanced their personal needs against the needs of others. Saints knew when they had enough things and when it was necessary to help those in need.
4. Finally, God has not stopped “making” saints.
There are many among us who have answered the call to live saintly lives. There are great humanitarians and there are men and women who quietly go about their chores doing the right thing day in and day out. There are those who refuse to give into materialism, racism, political power, sexism, and personal gain at the expense of another. These men and women do not others down so they can stand up.
Among those already canonized is someone almost just like me. There is someone who has battled the same things I have battled. There is someone who has walked the same path I am walking this very day. They stand before me as an intercessor and an example.
Quite simply: we are all called to sainthood.