Our church has a rich history of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They're called Saints. As a people I think we discount ever becoming saints, but even St. Augustine said, "If they, why not I? If these men and women could become saints, why cannot I with the help of Him who is all-powerful?" Indeed!
Mother Theresa always comes to my mind when I think of a saint. She embodied everything that was saintly and holy and she walked among us, in our life time, doing God's work with every breath she took. But there were many, many more.
Periodically, I'm going to talk about the saints of our church. I know that sometimes at mass the priest may mention that it's the feast day of a particular saint, but I think for the most part, our church has gotten away from the very beings that are our prayer warriors and more importantly our intercessors in heaven.
Since I converted as an adult, I'm not as familiar with the saints as I'd like to be, so this will be a learning venture for me as well.
Recently, I discovered Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1297). Her feast day was November 19. Mechtild was a mystic and poet. She wrote about the soul and God as if they were lovers but from a 13th century chivalrous viewpoint:
God says to the soul:
I come to my love
As dew on the flowers.
Welcome sweet dove!
You have flown so long over the earth
That your wings have grown strong enough
To carry you up to heaven!
December 3rd's feast day belongs to St. Francis Xavier. My first parish as a Catholic was named for him, so he holds a special place in my heart. St. Francis used the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments as his teaching tools. Pretty simple, wouldn't you say?
Today's day belongs to Eulalia of Merida (D. 304?). Eulalia (who was believed to be only 12 when she died) defied an order requiring the worship of the gods. Her mother tried to hide her but she ran off and confronted the judge. A hymn written by Prudentius in 405 to honor Eulalia spoke of her courage:
"Miserable men, for the Christians you search!
Lo, I am one of that odious race,
Foe to your fiendish idolatrous rites.
Witness to Christ with my heart and lips,
Under my feet I will trample your gods ..."
The judge tried to convince Eulalia, but she would have none of it. He then threatened her. Prudentius continues the story:
Forthwith two slaughterers seize her and rend,
One on each side, her innocent breasts,
Cutting her virginal flesh to the bone
With clawlike instruments, cruelly sharp.
Counting her wounds, thus Eulalia speaks:
"Lo, thou has written, O lord, on my flesh
Beautiful letters I joy to read,
Telling thy triumph, O Christ, to the world.
Streams of red blood that pour forth from my wounds
Utter they holy, all-powerful name."
And then, a miraculous sign of innocence:
Then of a sudden a snowy-white dove
Springs from the martyr and flies
Forth to the stars in the sight of the crowd.
It was Eulalia's innocent soul,
Winging its way to celestial heights.
Sorry about the graphic nature. A lot of saints suffered horrific deaths for their faith. It's something that we don't understand in our pampered times. But it does illustrate how far we can grow in Christ.
You can read more about St. Francis Xavier, Mechtild Magdeberga, Eulalia of Merida and a lot of other saints in a marvelous book I just discovered called "Voices of the Saints" by Bert Ghezzi.
I hope we'll learn together.