On the Lives of the Saints

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/02/26 at 12:00 AM

• Throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas, Holy Mother Church repeatedly reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.
• Through the use of candles and the Advent wreath, as well as through the readings we heard at Mass, we were reminded over and over again that Christ is our Light, a light so powerful that not even the darkness of sin and death can overcome Him!
• And this symbol of Christ as our light found its culmination last Sunday as we celebrated the beautiful Feast of the Presentation, the feast during which the candles used at Mass for the upcoming year traditionally are blessed.
• Now, after two months of meditating upon Christ as the Light of the World, the light shining in the darkness that sin and death cannot overcome, Holy Mother Church encourages us to be lights ourselves!
• In the Gospel today Jesus tells us that we are the light of the World, and that our lights must shine before others.
• The prophet Isaiah encourages us to perform works of mercy for others as a means of being light. He says that our charity makes our light “break forth like the dawn”, so that when others see our good works, they will give glory to our heavenly Father.
• Being this light is our baptismal call. It is both a duty and a privilege. At baptism we all receive the light of Christ symbolized by a candle that is lit from the paschal candle. When we’re given this candle, we’re told to keep the light of Christ burning brightly within us throughout our lives.
• Those lighted candles we receive at our baptism are a sign of the divine radiance of Christ, Who came to expel the darkness of sin and division and to make the whole world shine with the brilliance of His eternal light.
• Those baptismal candles also remind us how brightly our souls should shine when we go to meet Christ at the end of our lives.
• This is why I love the saints of our Church so much. Each of the saints of our Church is like a brilliant, burning torch whose good works shine brightly for all to see.
• Each is like a lighthouse, and by their lives and good works they shine out as beacons into our dark and fallen world, illuminating for us the pathway to the safe harbor of sanctity and union with our Triune Lord.
• Many saints of the Church, like St. Benedict and St. Augustine here to my left, shined forth in such major ways that they not only enlightened the Church, but the world!
• Think about it. We know good St. Benedict as the Father of Western Monasticism. It was he who not only founded the Benedictine Order, but who provided the template for the way monasticism is practiced in the western Church.
• We know as well that it was his monasteries that persevered our cultural heritage during the so-called “dark ages.” Without St. Benedict and the incredible legacy he left to the Church, western civilization would no doubt be greatly impoverished.
• And dear St. Augustine, perhaps more so than any other person in the Church’s history, has given shape and form to our theology. Even though he died nearly 1600 years ago, all who study the Church’s theology keenly feels his influence even today!
• Yet St. Augustine’s greatest legacy is not his enlightening theology, but rather his autobiography – known as his Confessions – which give voice to the dynamics of
spiritual conversion better than any other work known to man.
• I could go on and on about the incredible accomplishments of the saints, of how
through their work and acts of heroic virtue they shone forth with the brilliance of
Christ’s light and led many souls to Heaven!
• Each of the Church’s saints, in his or her own way, not only shines forth like a
brilliant lamp on a lampstand, but through his or her holiness is an inspiration and a
consolation to those of us struggling for sanctity ourselves.
• Of course not every saint accomplished works as grand as St. Benedict and St.
Augustine. Not every saint’s light was placed on a lampstand for all to see.
• Some of our saints lived quite hidden lives actually. Perhaps these “hidden” saints
are the most inspiring and consoling saints of all, for these hidden saints show us
that great holiness can be attained even through very ordinary and simple means.
• In this regard I think in particular of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. Little
Thérèse grew up quietly in Normandy, entered a Carmelite monastery at the age of
15, and died when she was only 24.
• In her short life she accomplished nothing extraordinary, and she was not well
known outside of her family or religious community. Yet now, just a little more than
100 years after her death, she is considered one of the greatest saints of the Church!
• This is because of her spiritual legacy known as “the Little Way” that she expounded
upon in her autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” which teaches us that holiness is not
attained by accomplishing much in this life, but rather by loving much.
• St. Thérèse wrote that true glory is reached not by performing striking works for all
to see, but by hiding oneself and practicing virtue “in such a way that the left hand
knows not what the right is doing” (cf. Story of a Soul, Manuscript A. IV; Mt. 6:3).
• Perhaps it sounds like the Little Flower is contradicting our Lord in the Gospel today, but in truth she is teaching us that great holiness is achievable for all of us, no matter
what our state in life, no matter how small our accomplishments may be.
• In truth, St. Thérèse is echoing the sentiments of St. Paul, who tells us today that
whatever good we do accomplish in this life is really only by means of God’s grace.
• St. Paul speaks of how he conducted his work amongst the Corinthians in weakness,
without sublime words or wisdom. And he says this so that the Christians of Corinth
might believe in God – not in Paul.
• This is the difference between a saint and a sociopath! History has been filled with
men who have accomplished great things, believing that they did so by their own
power. And they did so for their own glory, not God’s.
• So as we strive to let the light of our good works shine before others, we should do
so with a humility that recognizes that whatever good we do is only because God has
given us the grace to do those good works.
• Furthermore, St. Thérèse’s Little Way teaches us that all growth in holiness begins
with those little decisions we make each day to be good, to be charitable. So if you
wish to be a saint, simply begin with little acts of charity towards others.
• When we concern ourselves with the needs of others before the needs of ourselves in little things, our wills naturally are strengthened and the light of Christ within us
grows brighter so that we can love our Lord even more – and this makes us holy.
• My brothers and sisters, through God’s grace and mercy, may we all shine with the
light of Christ in this dark world of ours, most especially through the little, ordinary
actions of our daily lives – and may we do so with a humility that glorifies God. • May we all be saints someday.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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