‘O When the Saints’ come can­on­iz­ing

The Covington News - - OBITUARIES - The Rev. Lyn Pace is the col­lege chap­lain at Ox­ford Col­lege of Emory Univer­sity. You can find him run­ning in the city of Ox­ford about three times a week.

In a cou­ple of weeks we’ll cel­e­brate All Saints Day in the Chris­tian tra­di­tion. Ev­ery year on Nov. 1 we honor and re­mem­ber the peo­ple in the life of the church who have died since the last All Saints Day. It’s a mo­ment where we get to re­mem­ber the peo­ple in our life who we con­sider saints. It’s also a day in the life of the church where we re­mem­ber those peo­ple who have been for­mally can­on­ized as Saints. Peo­ple like St. Fran­cis of As­sisi, St. Pa­trick, St. Hilde­gard of Bin­gen, and many, many more.

I’m writ­ing this ar­ti­cle on Oct. 12, the birth­day of my fa­ther, Phil, who died in 2008. Though not at all per­fect, he’s one of my saints. But that’s the thing, saints aren’t per­fect. They’re faith- ful, and they live their lives from a place of faith, hope, love — all highly prized virtues. My dad did this for me even though I didn’t al­ways see it along the way. Now as I par­ent my own son, I can see how this hap­pens. I can also see how we have to stay true to who we are and live out of our own sense of au­then­tic­ity as a hu­man be­ing. In­tegrity and au­then­tic­ity are saintly val­ues.

Who are your saints? Who are the peo­ple on whose shoul­ders you stand? Who are the peo­ple who acted as he­roes to you but needed no recog­ni­tion for it? Who led out of a place of faith, hope, and/ or love? Who are the peo­ple who have died in the past year or be­fore that you want to honor? Some­times these are peo­ple we didn’t even know per­son­ally.

Sis­ter Joan Chittester in her book The Li­tur­gi­cal Year says, “In the lives of the saints, we see in our own time the qual­i­ties that make life pos­si­ble” (200). Yes, in­deed. The lives of those who have gone on be­fore us to join a great com­mu­nity of wit­nesses to a life [mostly] well-lived are a path on which we can travel. They help us put one foot in front of the other when we aren’t sure if that’s pos­si­ble to­day. They nudge us to stand up and speak out for those who may not be able to do so for them­selves. They call us out of our com­pla­cency to protest and com­bat in­jus­tice, hate, prej­u­dice, iso­la­tion, scarcity, and evil. These saintly lives, whether for­mal or in­for­mal, hold the gift of pos­si­bil­ity for us as we live our own lives. As we hope to be­come saints for oth­ers.

It’s elec­tion sea­son and it seems to me that the mean­ing of this holy day cel­e­brat­ing saints is one to keep at the fore­front of our hearts and minds. Which can­di­date for you mod­els a life of pos­si­bil­ity, hu­mil­ity, love, faith, hope, au­then­tic­ity, and in­tegrity? Which can­di­date op­er­ates from a place of abun­dance rather than a place of scarcity? Which can­di­date has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate re­spect­ful com­mu­ni­ties be­cause of their lead­er­ship? These are good ques­tions to pon­der as we ap­proach Nov. 8, 2016.

Let me of­fer you some­thing else to think about in hopes that you’ll join me. You’re in­vited to a free film screen­ing about St. Hilde­gard of Bin­gen at Ox­ford Col­lege in Novem­ber. The screen­ing of The Un­ruly Mys­tic will take place on Mon­day, Novem­ber 14, 2016 at 7:30pm in Wil­liams Hall on the Ox­ford Col­lege cam­pus. It’s free and open to the pub­lic. Fol­low­ing the screen­ing the film­maker, Mr. Michael Conti (a par­ent of one of our stu­dents) will hold a “Ques­tion and An­swer” ses­sion with the au­di­ence where he’ll give us a look at one of these “of­fi­cial” Saints, one of the church’s most cre­ative saints. The hope is that she may in­spire our own imag­i­na­tion and love of life so that we will more deeply pay at­ten­tion to each other and the world around us.

I hope you’ll join me at the screen­ing. What’s more, though, I hope you’ll join me in hon­or­ing those peo­ple who are saints in our lives so that we may live lives wor­thy of their ex­am­ple. So that we might be able to sing, “I want to be in that num­ber, when the saints go march­ing in.”


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