Sometimes it’s pointed out that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” We also rub shoulders with giants and may not even realize it. On the Feast of All Saints we celebrate all people who have made it into heaven, whether they’ve been officially canonized or not. It’s pretty obvious that Mother Teresa and Padre Pio are holy persons. But there are plenty other human beings who are unrecognized saints. They weren’t awarded Nobel prizes for taking in the dying, and they didn’t suffer the stigmata, the bloody wounds of Jesus. In fact, today we live with saints. They may be family members, neighbors, or co-workers who quietly live with love and integrity as Jesus taught.
Think of a friend who patiently and faithfully cares for a chronically sick parent or child. Or an employee who was fired after courageously standing up for what was right. Or the teacher who copes with rambunctious children or teenagers day in and day out. I imagine that people who lived in Nazareth didn’t realize Mary’s holiness. To them she was just Ann and Joachim’s girl or the wife of the carpenter down the street. The sisters who lived with St. Catherine Laboure didn’t learn until she died that the Blessed Mother appeared to her and asked her to spread the devotion of the Miraculous Medal. As I told teachers this month, be careful how you treat every student. One of them might be a future pope! We ought to act toward and speak of every person with reverence, even though they may have glaring faults. The title of one book about saints is Tilted Halos. It offers an unvarnished picture of the saints, including their faults. No one is perfect (except Jesus and Mary). Perhaps some people become saints through their faults. Now that’s an encouraging thought! Just as the Saints in heaven inspire us to be virtuous, the saints still on earth serve as models for us . . . and maybe we for them.
Who is a saint-in-the-making among your acquaintances?