I heard a story once about a young boy who is visiting Europe with his family. In their visits to iconic places throughout Europe, this little boy becomes particularly enamored with the majesty of the cathedrals and churches that soon become familiar stopping places along their route.
One day, the boy’s father comes across his son looking up at the sun’s reflection in some stained glass windows, his face illuminated by the kaleidoscope of colors that shine through the marvelous glass. Struck by the beauty of the sight, the son asks his father, “Who are those people in the windows?” And the father, following the boy’s curious gaze, catches a glimpse of the holy men and women from throughout the Church’s history. Turning to his son, he remarks, “Oh! Those are the Saints!”
Satisfied, the boy moves along. Back in the U.S. after the vacation, the young boy returns to his usual Sunday religious education class. On this particular day, the teacher asks her students: “Can anyone tell me who the saints are?” The boy raises his hand, waving it back and forth with excitement. “I know!” he proclaims. “Saints are the ones the light shines through!”
Saints are the ones the light shines through.
This simple story, I think, contains deep wisdom. In and through the diverse lives of the saints, we see a profound truth: God calls each and every one of us to holiness. But, we, like these holy men and women, can and must respond to that call in our own particular ways, using our gifts and talents to glorify God in our own communities and situations. In this way, God’s light can shine to all the ends of the earth.
In my work with Notre Dame Vision, I have come to see that this is an important idea to emphasize with teenagers and young adults. (Of course, people of all ages should reflect on this truth.) So many other narratives compete for our attention and propose a different orientation for our lives, for example, that money, status, or fame should be pursued to the exclusion of holiness.
Reclaiming this call to holiness takes work, along with reminders of who we are and who God calls us to be. To that end, we developed a resource called Teaching the Saints. This free teaching resource can be adapted for use in the classroom, home, or parish, and features biographies and worksheets on the lives of some of the Church’s holy men and women. We seek to highlight what it means to seek after God’s call, even in the midst of competing narratives.
We hope that this resource can further illuminate the witness of the saints and provide a window for conversation and action so that, as a Church, we may continue to let God’s light shine through our witness.
Featured Image: Nathan Rupert; CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0.