July 13, 2017
My brothers & sisters:
Recently, I was speaking to a friend relatively new to the faith, and she asked about the saints: Why the saints? Why the perhaps strange cult that surrounds St. Therese, the Little Flower? Why not just God, in his three persons?
I smiled, and reminded her: The saints are the historical extensions of a life directed interiorly by the Holy Spirit. Let me translate this into simpler terms. God is real. The life of faith, hope, and love—the three theological virtues—brings us into intimate contact with God, and with his life, including the life of the Holy Spirit, one of the three divine persons. He actively guides our minds and our hearts, and gives us words when we are world-less; his fruits we experience with authentic intimacy. He guides us whether God has imagined for us a mission great or small, known or hidden; to him, and to his heart, what matters is our love, and the lessons we have learned from the lovers who come before us.
The saints are concrete, lived pieces of our own immediate reality—the Holy Spirit whom we receive in baptism, saints since the time of the Gospels have received in baptism, and in each saint the Holy Spirit has worked out a subjective experience that helps us to see into the greater, objective, otherwise hidden reality of God, of love, of boundless possibility and power.
I like to think of St. Francis of Assisi in this context. The Lord gifted him with the stigmata, so that from within his own heart and body he could understand something of the wounds of Jesus crucified; and could speak into that reality, could show something of that reality, around which our minds cannot be wrapped. We ought not desire the stigmata in its extraordinariness, but we ought desire the subjective, personal fullness that comes with the objective presence of God in us, so that we too may know the life of Christ, and continue to bear that objective reality into history, starting with this moment, in every age, until the end of time.
Tired of telling you, you have me
When I know you really don't
Tired of telling you I'll follow
When I know I reallly won't
Cause I'd rather stand here speechless
With no great words to say
If my silence is more truthful
In the Silence – Jason Upton