November is a Superstar Month

by Kathleen Ryan, SND on November 13, 2012

in Blogs, Uncategorized

I love the saints.  I actually can’t think of how to make our faith come more alive than to proclaim salvation history through the stories of the lives of a saints.  I’d like to share a story withyou that provides a great  answer to the question, “Who knows what a saint is?”

A mom was walking through a beautiful church with her pre-school son.  It was a very bright, sunny day.  The little boy, looking at the brilliant light coming through the stain glass windows, asked his mom, “Why is there a man in the window?” (He was referring to a picture in the stain glass of the patron saint of the parish.)

The mom replied, “Oh, that’s a saint. A saint is someone who loves God very much and did good work all of his/her life.”

When the little boy  got to first grade, the religion lesson for November 1st was on the saints.  The teacher asked, “Does anyone know what a saint is?”

The young boy’s hand shot up and when she called on him, he said in a loud voice, “A saint is someone the light shines through.”

A saint is someone the light shines through—best answer to that question  I ever heard.

The great saints, modern and old, knew this about how a loving relationship with God implelled them forward.  They were on fire to proclaim the Gospel message, and as the great St. Francis of Assisi said, “Proclaim the gospel everyday, everywhere and if necessary, use words.”  Saints are on fire from within.  Their mind, souls, spirit are captured by God.  The light comes  from within and shines out onto the world. 

 The spiritual foundress of my community, a great saint,  St. Julie Billiart,  was known for proclaiming how good God is and how much care God has for each of us.  It is said she wrote about goodness over 1,000 times to our first sisters. She wrote about finding the good in each person, about knowing God loves us each personlly and completely.

The Ursuline sisters of Cleveland trace their roots to the first sisters who ever came to North America.  The Ursuline sisters founded in the 1400’s, came to Quebec in the 1600’s and to New Orleans in 1720. What does a religious foundress do in a new, undeveloped land called the United States or in Europe where girls were not considered worthy of an education?   St Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursuline and St. Julie Billiart were both way ahead of their times—both wanted to educate girls when no one would educate girls.  Both recognized the dignity of the child, the individual as learner when child were tobe seen and not heard.  And both of these great women chose education as the way to carry out their spirituality and mission.

St. Ignatius of Loyola  was also way ahead of his time.  He developed an entirely new system and way to find God, the Spiritual Exercises—not in the monestary, but as companions on the journey in the world..  He saw the link between spirituality and action. He knew the monks were correct in needing a serious prayer life.  He also knew the gospel needed to be for all people, everywhere, even outside the monestary.   He chose education as the essential ministry of the Jesuit, the religious order of men he founded, because he knew education was the key to changing society for the better. 

 In our time, on July 31, 1973, the feast day of St. Ignatius,  the Jesuit Superior General  Padre Pedro  Arrupe coined the term “Men for Others.” (This phrase has been expanded by the Jesuits to now say “Men and Women for Others.”)  This focus has become the foundational element of Jesuit education worldwide. The term has come to mean that if one person graduates from a Jesuit school lacking a sense of social justice, the school has not achieved its primary mission. The idea of “Men and Women for Others” is lived out in the life of St. Ignatius, as well as other Jesuits throughout history, and has many practical implications in contemporary life.

“Jesuit institutions hold out as a prime educational objective “to form men [and women] for others; men [and women] who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ – for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men [and women] who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men [and women] completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce.” (Notes from the speech of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., twenty-eighth Superior General of the Society of Jesus. 1973 )

This is just a glimpse of great women and men,  who, through prayer and work, find God in the realities of their time and went about as Jesus did, “doing good.”  Let’s bask in the light of the saints this month. Please share a story of your favorite Saint.  Who?   Why do you admire him/her?  Who are the saints of today?



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Novak November 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

Yes, Superstars! Sparks of God’s great love for humankind! Those who let their light shine to show the way from and to a good and caring God! I like that. Thank you!


Cheryl Keehner,CSA November 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

I think the people in St.Richard’s parish who give so generously to the poor – especially those active in our social outreach programs – are saints among us. The “light sure shines through them!” (and they make my job easy.


Donna Paluf November 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Another saint for our time to consider is Dorothy Day. As some push for her canonization, it is worth looking her up and reading about her life. Thanks for reminding us to remember all these saints especially during November.


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