Monday, October 31, 2011
A friend of Thomas Merton told say,” he told him, “is that you want to be a saint!”
Merton was dumbfounded.
But those are the stories we hear about. There are countless stories – millions, throughout the centuries – that we don’t. They are the anonymous saints who go about their daily lives quietly, peacefully, joyfully, finally entering into the fullness of grace without doing anything more dramatic than merely living the beatitudes.
They are the unsung saints.
In the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, you’ll see magnificent tapestries lining the walls. And they really are magnificent, designed and executed by the artist John Nava.
In the tapestries, you can see all the familiar saints whose names we know, in a row, facing toward the altar, as if in line for communion. It is – literally and figuratively – the communion of the saints. There is St. Nicholas, St. Gregory, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Clare…and on and on, with their names over their heads.
But scattered among those saints are people without names – people you won’t find in Butler’s “Lives of the Saints.” A teenage girl. A young man from the barrio. Children in contemporary clothes. They are the saints whose names are known only to God. It is a beautiful and eloquent depiction of the day we celebrate today: All Saints.
And the message of those tapestries is the message of this feast day: these unknown saints are just as worthy as they ones who are known. They look like us. They look like people we might pass on the street. If they can be holy, can’t we all?
What does it take to join them?
As Robert Lax explained, to a man whom some people today consider a saint:
All you really need… is to want to.
And God will do all the rest.