Sunday, 2 November 2014

All Saints (transferred)



I'd like to return to a question I posed a while back, and consider for a moment what a saint LOOKS like, which today’s feast of ALL saints makes both easy and appropriate.
We can note that some saints are short and some are tall, some are blonde and some are dark, some are women and some are men.

More than this, we can note that their basic temperament types vary.
There are jolly saints like St Philip Neri, known for his practical jokes (like the fact he once grew a beard on only one side of his face), or like the humorous penances he used to assign to people in confession (like having to take his disagreeable cat out for a walk).
But there are also intense and austere saints, like the great Cure D'Ars, St John Vianney, who used to live on just mouldy potatoes and a glass of milk a day.
Then, there are silent and hermitical saints like St Bruno, who lived in solitude.
Whereas, other saints were wildly engaged with an active life amidst people, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
In short, the saints are as varied as human beings are varied.

To focus on one example of this, namely anger:
When St Thomas Aquinas comments on the basic human personality types as they relate to anger: the colic, the sanguine, the phlegmatic; he notes that each of these are original natural states, and they are each transformed by grace into a DIFFERENT type of saint -the saints DO NOT all look the same.
The colic becomes a saint by both restraining his excessive anger, and, by learning to focus it on activities that serve other –his colic nature is the dynamo that powers the force of his drive for sanctity.
In contrast, the phlegmatic becomes a saint by both learning how to fire himself up, and, by enabling his inherent calmness to calm others –his phlegmatic nature is the calming anointment he brings to troubled situations.

Let me also note, however, that there are certain things that all the saints have in COMMON.
If St Philip Neri was jolly, he also practiced serious penance.
And though the Cure D'Ars fasted so much, he also had a sense of humour, and cracked jokes -he used to joke with the schoolchildren while he drank that single daily glass of milk.
And none of the saints were unloving, even those who lived in solitude.
And none of the saints were unprayerful, even those engaged in active apostolates.

To sum it up to its core:
All the saints loved God while they were on earth, thus they all love Him still in heaven.
Thus, none of the saints were sad on earth, and they rejoice now in the joy of loving, and being loved by, the most loveable Lord in heaven.

What does a saint look like?
They look as varied as you and me.
And there is not one of us here that God does not want to become a saint.

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