Tuesday, October 25, 2011

lower case saints

When Saint Paul wrote about the saints, he meant anyone who was a follower (a disciple) of Jesus Christ. Little did he know that one day the word “saint” would be reserved for those dead people whose lives shine as an example of the Christian way of being. It always pleases me when I hear of someone being called a “saint” because of something they do. It is a better use of the word than simply reserving it for the Saints.

In the early Church people were commemorated as Saints because of their outstanding life, or even perhaps because of a martyr’s death. In any event, eventually there were way more than 365 Saints, so no longer could each one have their own day. Besides that, people were beginning to forget about many of the Saints. So, All Saints Day (Nov, 1) was formed to remember all the Saints people didn’t have time to remember or who had been forgotten altogether. All Souls Day (Nov. 2) became an opportunity for us to remember people in our own lives, people we knew, who had a positive impact on our lives, the lower case “saints” as it were. Lower case saints are the better kind of saint anyway.

The Gospel lesson for All Saints Day is the Beatitude (or as I like to call them, the BE-attitudes) from Matthews’ Gospel (5: 1-12).  It is the preamble to the Sermon on the Mount, a significant early document contained within the Gospel. The BE-attitudes are a wonderful statement of the expectations we place on ourselves for saintliness. These are the attitudes-of-being for the saints, for you and me, for all disciples of Jesus Christ.

I don’t often have occasion to quote Clink Eastwood, but speaking about attitude he said, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.” Right attitude, that is, the BE-attitudes play a significant role in enabling us to be lower case saints.

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