Last Sunday’s canonizations of Americans Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope in Rome received considerable media attention in the United States, including a front page story on the Sunday edition of the New York Times.
With the United States Presidential Election only days away, it is intriguing that the world’s most famous newspaper would devote precious space on its Sunday edition for the canonization of two American Catholic saints.
I think, however, it speaks to the wide and mysterious appeal of the saints..
As Father James Martin, SJ reminds us, the saintly appeal is rooted in the holiness and joy that they radiate. They speak to a skeptical world in a way many cannot.
When the saints are dead we see their glory and burn little candles at their feet. But while they live, they are usually thought to be eccentric, ridiculous and even positively hypocritical. To their families, they are generally a nuisance, and they seldom appear to make a difference.
But when the years move on and we look back, we often find that it is not the social reformer, or the economist or even the leaders of the Church who have done tremendous things for the human race, but the silly saints in their rags and tatters with their empty pockets and their impossible dreams.
It is the saints who made universities, hospitals and schools, the saints who fought against slavery, who saved children abandoned by their parents, who went and tended lepers and fed the poor.
Perhaps even more important than these accomplishments are the examples left to us by the holy men and women of God.
They remind us that Jesus Christ is all around us, only if we have the eyes to see him. Mostly we do not recognize him. We live our lives blind, numb to the reality that the Son of God comes to us a hundred times a day.
Pope Benedict reminds us that “[t]he saints were able to make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope” (Spe Salvi 39)
As the Solemnity of All Saints approaches and Catholics around the world take time to remember the men and women in their lives who have revealed to them the Christ hidden in our world, let us pray that we been the given the eyes of the Saints—the eyes of Hope.