A Sky Filled with Saints

Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) in Cassiopeia constellation

Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) in Cassiopeia constellation

“There are as many saints as there are stars in the sky!”

The night sky in its magnificent beauty has beckoned to me ever since I was a small child. At night, especially on a summer’s night, I would slip away and sit on our front porch, or better still, I would lie on the grass and just look up at the stars. I learned to recognize one constellation from another and once in a while view an eclipse of the moon.

That is why a statement made by our parish priest during my growing-up years has stayed with me my entire life. One Sunday, during his homily when I was in about the sixth grade, he said, “There are as many saints as there are stars in the sky.”

This spoke to my very soul. I could almost feel the constellations of saints surrounding me. To this day, I still love to watch the stars and I still imagine constellations of saints above watching over our earth, well, watching over me.

When the newly-constructed Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles opened its doors several years ago, I was captivated by the beautiful wall hangings filled with saints, all facing the altar with eyes riveted on that sacred sanctuary. It brought that statement back to me again, “There are as many saints as there are stars in the sky.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought?

It speaks to my heart so deeply, I think, because the stars are filled with a beauteous light.

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15).

There are so many saint-constellations—the constellation of martyrs, of virgins, of confessors, of holy men, of holy women, of pastors. Each constellation is different and each saint-star within the constellation is entirely different also, in appearance, in talents, even in holiness.

It is a fruitful, if mind-boggling meditation, to think about how different each human being really is. We each have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, some hair and yet look at the immense variety of facial countenances. We all have basic vocal cords, yet what a wide range of voices emerges from us, alto, soprano, and yet each one of these is different in tone.

Saints are something like that. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that each person is a reflection of one particular attribute of God. This is a wonderful thing to think about and meditate on. Each of us is called by God precisely to glorify Him in a uniquely special way.

Yes, we are all called to become saints. That simply means becoming the very best person each of us can be, choosing virtue over vice, and corresponding to the graces God gives us moment by moment. Vatican Council II gave us a whole chapter on this, “The Universal Call to Holiness.” It is magnificent.

On Divine Mercy Sunday in 2014, the Church added two new stars to the constellation of saints, St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII. We celebrated with a “Pope Party” at St. Joseph Campus on Divine Mercy Sunday. I thought, yes, this is right. This is the way we are meant to be. Happy. Filled with life to the brim and overflowing and living simply in accordance with God’s law. My whole being shouted “YES!” It’s a shame that we don’t find too many times to celebrate life so wonderfully in today’s world.

What blessed times we live in. Of course, I know that we also can say about our time in history, with Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” An example of this can be found in the wars of the last one hundred years, atrocity after atrocity. Yet, concurrently, saints are living right here at the same time, in our same world. Some of them blaze with a light that streaks across the sky for all the world to see, like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Faustina, and our two newest Saints: Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.  However, most are humble folk who you will never see center-stage. They go about their lives quietly in their corner of the Lord’s Vineyard. Yet, in their small, hidden ways, they each shine with their own unique light.

Remember the parable about the field where the enemy had sown weeds among the wheat?  Should we go and pull the weeds?  No, Jesus says,  “Allow both weeds and wheat to grow together until the harvest.”  Why?  It is not worth the risk of mistaking even one shaft of wheat for a weed.  And in the case of human souls, some who seem determined to sow weeds end up responding to grace in ways that shake the foundations of society, like Saint Augustine. In the darkest times, in the horrendous evil perpetrated by man, God raises up the Saints to give us hope, to lead us safely home to Him.  Perhaps their lights shine even brighter in the midst of such deep darkness, reminding us that God’s love is deeper and higher and wider.

“…be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:15).

May each of us shine like the stars for all eternity!

St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, pray for us!

By Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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