Saints continue to inspire our faith

By Linda Zahorik | April 23, 2014

So often in Living Rite, we encourage our readers to “look for” as we try to link your surroundings to the celebration of liturgy. With this being Divine Mercy Sunday you may be expecting something to be written about the Divine Mercy image, but actually take note if any images of (St.) Pope John XXIII and (St.) Pope John Paul II, our two saints who will be canonized this weekend, have made their way into your church. Since Pope Francis made his announcement in September regarding the canonization of these two men, production of statues and holy cards featuring them has abounded. Perhaps in the next 10 years we may have a new parish emerge in our diocese bearing the namesake of one of these saints.
We as Catholics venerate the saints, meaning that we honor and show them devotion for what they accomplished in their lives of faith. Seeing a statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who lost her mother when she was still a child, might make us feel less alone. A picture of St. Francis of Assisi might remind us to be more respectful of our environment. As Catholics, we believe in the Communion of Saints. Keeping a picture or statue of a favored saint in our homes or parish church is one way to remember “the family,” the people you love, the ones you want to keep close to you even when you are not together.
The invention of color lithography led to holy cards. Every pre-1960s Catholic school child remembers receiving holy cards for answering questions correctly or a special occasion. You might get a Blessed Mother card for winning the spelling bee, or a St. Francis of Assisi for perfect attendance.
Some of us young entrepreneurs may even have traded our cards to expand our collection. Adults tucked holy cards into prayer book or used them as adornment in the home. I remember my mother had holy cards tucked in the corners of her bedroom mirror. Mom also saved every holy card she received at a funeral. How I wish now that I had saved all of those cards when we cleaned out my mother’s house, especially after I checked on eBay and found an antique holy card of Mary and Jesus, trimmed in paper lace, fetching $29!
This weekend as I take home my holy card (featuring both new saints on the same card) I will be able to say, “I actually remember when this man was our pope.” What a blessing that the Communion of Saints remains for us, an ever expanding testimony that God’s grace empowers all people, in all times, to strive for holiness.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.

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