Learning about the Communion of Saints and their role in the Church since my conversion was not as difficult for me to grasp as many might believe. The concept of praying for others is very common in Protestant churches. Catholic devotion to the saints is nothing more than admiration and respect for the memory of the dead heroes of the Church who chose to surrender their will and often their lives to serve God and his Church. What sets the saints apart is that they were ordinary human beings like you and me who were extraordinarily faithful to God, and their lives serve as role models for us. All of us are called to lead lives of holiness and become saints. The examples and faith of these courageous men and women can show us the way.
As I reflect on the role the saints have played in my faith journey, four saints stand out as ones I can relate to best. Saints Peter, Paul, Joseph, and Augustine have had the most meaningful, profound influence on my life so far. I have prayed to ask many of the saints for their intercessions, but I keep coming back to these remarkable men and the lessons they have taught me through the examples of their lives.
I can absolutely relate to a man with a temper who often sticks his foot in his mouth! What I most connect with about Saint Peter is that he represents all of us in our frailties, imperfections, and inclination to sin. He denied Jesus three times and yet he was given the keys to the kingdom. He was not perfect, but he was forgiven by our Lord and became the first pope.
My shortcomings have paralleled those of Saint Peter in numerous ways, but there is hope for me in his example of persistent efforts to serve Jesus despite his failings, and the fact that our Lord is always willing to forget the past and show forgiveness.
I don’t know whether I would consider myself a missionary, but my passion for sharing our Catholic faith has been heavily influenced by this apostle and his extraordinary life. Like Saint Paul, I came from a background that seemed poorly suited for the kind of life I try to lead today. He was a Jewish zealot who persecuted Christians. I was a former Baptist who spent twenty-three years hiding from God and avoiding any kind of faith. Just as he went through a powerful personal conversion on the road to Damascus, I went through a similar experience in the Mass I referred to in chapter one when I surrendered to Christ and made the commitment to serve him. Much of what we know about Saint Paul comes from his letters to the fledgling Christian communities he helped found in the books of the New Testament. In my own small way, I have tried to reach others through my writing, and I am always inspired by the sacrifice, suffering, and faithfulness of the Apostle to the gentiles.
As a father and husband, who better for me to emulate than Saint Joseph? I have long been drawn to my patron saint and find in his quiet example the encouragement to be more courageous, trusting, and faithful in God’s promises. As the father of a son with special needs, I often feel hard-pressed to give my oldest son the love and patience he needs from me. I frequently feel inadequate when I advise and guide my younger son through the minefields of his young life. My loving wife should expect my best efforts as a husband, yet I sometimes feel selfish, distracted, and too worn out to give her the 100 percent she deserves. Yet all of my shortcomings are somehow overcome when I pray for the intercession of Saint Joseph and reflect on his heroic example in caring for Jesus and Mary.
As I continue to study the Catholic faith, I am drawn to the writings of Saint Augustine and his story of conversion. I feel a connection to this doctor of the Church because we have something in common: Both our mothers prayed for many years that we would come to know Jesus Christ. Saint Monica prayed for her son to give up his paganism and immoral lifestyle while my Baptist mother prayed that I would leave the spiritual wilderness and be reconciled to Christ. I am certain my Baptist mother did not have the Catholic Church in mind while she prayed, but nevertheless her prayers and those of Saint Monica were answered. I also feel drawn to this quote from Saint Augustine, which so accurately describes my own restless heart and search for the Truth: “You have created us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
When I think about my faith journey and the road before me that still must be traveled, I know I can rely on the intercessions of these four great saints—and so many others—when I am in need. Their examples of faithfulness, joy, love, and endured suffering inspire and encourage me in so many ways. I am an unworthy sinner, but I know that I must strive every day to become a saint. A life focused on anything less would be a tragedy.
Adapted from Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith with permission of Liguori Publications and Randy Hain
Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods and your local Catholic bookstore.
The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012 and is available in your local Catholic bookstores, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods and on Amazon. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, will be released on March 1st, 2013 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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