Saints

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector 

Are you bedeviled by severe headaches? Consider praying for the aid of St. Peter Damian, patron saint of migraines. Can't sleep because of noisy frogs? Invoke the name of St. Harvey of Brittany, who had the power to quiet them. Suffering from writer's block? Asking St. Francis de Sales for inspiration might end the dry spell. Ever been tempted to commit perjury? Then turn to St. Pancras. Do you, for whatever reason, suffer occasionally from hangovers? Then your saint is Bilbiana, a 4th century holy person in the garden above whose tomb grew an herb that relieved headaches. Concerned about the upcoming mid-term election? Then ask God for the succor of St. Chad, the patron saint of elections (yes, I know: remembering the 2000 election with all its "hanging chads," what are the odds that the saint for elections is Chad?!)

November is the month of Saints, for during this month we observe All Saints' Sunday on November 2nd, and are reminded of our own identity as the saints of God. When most of us hear the word "saint," we probably tend to think of the famous and impressive folk through the centuries who have accomplished great and wondrous feats for the Kingdom of God. And, indeed, these people were saints. But All Saints' is the day when we celebrate the fact that all of us, by virtue of our baptism into Christ Jesus, are called to be saints, and have, in fact, already been made saints in and for him. Saints are not merely the nearly flawless giants of the faith (whom history has all-too-often rendered rather bloodless, as well). Saints are those who, in every age and in countless ways, have tried to be faithful to God when faithfulness was out of fashion; who have sacrificed themselves for others in a world where "sacrifice" is frequently an alien concept; who have, stated simply, tried to live life in the direction of God. Saints are not perfect. They-we-are people who take God seriously, as the poet Anne Sexton put it; who, despite our individual and communal warts and blemishes and shortcomings, are trying to become more and more the people God would have us be; who are growing into the identity that is already ours: the holy ones of God.

And during this month of saints, for whom will you be a saint? For whom will you, in ways subtle and unknowing, point the way toward God? Who will remember you, perhaps decades from now, as one who pointed them to the Other, who showed them Christ, who nudged them to walk more closely to God?