“The dazzling genius of Augustine, the luminous wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, have shed forth upon souls the rays of an imperishable splendor; through them, Christ and his doctrine have become better known. The divine poem lived out by Francis of Assisi has given to the world an imitation, as yet unequaled, of the life of God made man. Through him legions of men and women have learned to love God more perfectly. But a little Carmelite who had hardly reached adult age has conquered in less than half a century innumerable hosts of disciples. Doctors of the law have become children at her school; the Supreme Shepherd has exalted her and prays to her with humble and assiduous supplications; and even at this moment from one end of the earth to the other, there are millions of souls whose interior life has received the beneficent influence of [her] little book [The Story of a Soul].”
Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.
History is full of hope. This is what the saints tell us and why their stories should be told and celebrated in every day and age. The holy men and women who have gone before us direct our attention toward the final unfolding of history, when God will be all and in all. However, this is not always obvious, at least it wasn’t to me. As a young school girl, and even as a graduate student, history was a subject for study. I learned about the past, and often that past that didn’t seem to have much to do with me, at least not here and now, nor in the future.
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!”
What could “tough love” possibly have to do with the dual sense of consolation I experienced last month in a special prayer service? My wife and I gathered with our parish family to express solidarity with fellow Christians and to see more clearly our need for trust in Our Lord and the Blessed Mother.