Click herIn the excitement of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, our daughter exclaimed to her three children, “Did you know there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world?” Her son, Freddy, age 10, shot back, “Did you know I’m going to be watching the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, in three months?” What? Huh? Apparently, he’s more excited about galaxies than sightings of the Pope.
This Sunday, we celebrate All Saints’ Day as we honor the multitudes from every nation, race, people, and tongue—throughout the two-thousand year history of Christianity—who have taken up Christ’s call to the great adventure of discipleship. We honor these saints who have displayed heroic virtue in their lives (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, #828).
Yes, heroic virtue! No wonder Freddy can’t wait for The Force Awakens, as young boys often dream of being super heroes by slaying dragons and conquering galaxies—far, far away. Young people need to know they were made more—for the real adventure called sainthood!
In the 16th century, when bedridden with war injuries, Ignatius of Loyola read a book on the lives of the saints and was spellbound by the adventure of following Christ wholeheartedly—no matter the consequences. He rose to the adventure and founded the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits (Pope Francis’ order). Ignatius of Loyola is but one in the litany of saints, which includes the heroic service of a Mother Teresa, the heroic sacrifice of a Maximillian Kolbe, or the heroic love of a Francis or Therese of Lisieux.
We often equate heroic virtue with serving in a foreign mission or giving one’s life in martyrdom, but most Christians live out their sainthood—heroic virtue—in their very homes, workplace, or neighborhood: the parent who spends his or her life caring for a special needs child; the person who quits a job, takes a major pay cut, to be more fully aligned with his or her Christian values; the one who continuously serves neighbors through little acts of charity; the person who volunteers as a Big Brother or Big Sister, and the list goes on.
As I was voicing my concern for our culture, which in many ways is contrary to our faith, a faith-filled young mother quietly reflected: “Well, perhaps our children will be given the opportunity to demonstrate heroic virtue.” Yes, they may, as the very first Christians, be called to give their very lives. Yet the truth remains, that every Christian, in every age, has been called to grand adventure of heroic virtue—of sainthood.
Though Freddy is enthralled with Star Wars as a ten-year old, my prayer is he will be captivated by Christ’s love and the call to sainthood. Now is the time for the force of Christianity to awaken and usher in God’s love through heroic virtue. May the force of Christ’s love be with you!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.