Tag Archives: Saints

Saints: Even More Reasons to Celebrate

28 Jul

Minnesota loves to party. As soon as the our frigid winters disappear, we look for any reason to be out of doors. Even the palest Scandinavian will risk sunburn to enjoy all the beautiful things our state offers. Perhaps it’s the length of the cold which drives us to have a good time like there’s no tomorrow. (Honestly, who really knows what the weather forecast will bring?) From Grand Old Day to the Minnesota State Fair, from the Basilica Block party to weekends at the cabin, each weekend has something unique and something to celebrate. We get together with friends, drink great beer, listen to extraordinary music, and do that which brings us out of ourselves and into the beauty of whatever we may be celebrating. We celebrate what means the most. We honor what has been sacrificed. We recognize accomplishments and we, through the sacramental and physical world, begin to meditate and experience what the Heavenly vision of God, our true home and ultimate goal, will be like.

Saint Norbert by Martin Pepijn

Saint Norbert by Martin Pepijn

Earlier this month, I was able to create my own celebration for what I value deeply in my life. The Catholic Church, in her diversity, recognizes those whom she elevates to sainthood with recognition on a particular day of the year. If a parish or ethnic group holds the values of a saint or feast in high honor, they are permitted to celebrate the saint’s day with greater festivity than other members of the Church. They host a celebration proudly showing what makes their community special and how God speaks to them while still coming together to create the whole Church on the highest festivals like Easter or Christmas. For instance, in Catholic Mexico, May 1 is the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker and is celebrated widely. The Irish celebrate St. Patrick on March 17. Native Americans may celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha on July 14. Individually, people celebrate their namesake’s feast day, or their confirmation saint’s feast.

I have a particular devotion to St. Norbert. When I celebrated my saint’s day it felt to me like a great holiday! I was able to mark the day not only with special prayer but also shared my joy with friends who celebrated with me (whether they expected to or not) at the Muddy Pig. God spoke to me. He knew the day meant a lot to me and He showed me His love in a very deep and personal way. This love must be tried and experienced. No description could ever do skydiving justice: how much greater the experience of the love of God!

All God created is good and it ought to be celebrated! Explore the great festivals of the Church and learn all the reasons to raise a glass and party! There are many ways to become holy. You may find a saint or two who resonates with your spirituality. If so, toast to them!

Link to learn more about St. Norbert: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots181.htm

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Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

24 Mar Start Teaching our Children the Faith Early

Spirituality and religion are so profoundly personal.  And many of us are still on our journey of either/both/one.  Given that each person has a particular journey, why start religious instruction early for children?  Why not let them choose their own path when they are old enough to be interested in it?

We have opted to start religion for our kiddos from the get-go for a number of reasons: 1) being part of a larger spiritual community; 2) development of conscience; and 3) reinforcement of our parenting values.

Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

Our son who is two and a half has a sweet love of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He doesn’t get the advanced concepts of the hypostatic union or transubstantiation.  He doesn’t need to.  He understands Jesus was once a little boy too.  He understands Mama Mary to be his heavenly mother, and Jesus’ mama, who is there to comfort him when he is alone and scared.  For him, the Saints are not only a great baseball team, but also a team of wonderful people who are dead and whose examples we strive to follow.

 When we consider how the Church can influence the development of conscience, we don’t see religion as a vehicle for shaming or guilt-tripping.  The shaping of a conscience is comprised of delineating desirable behavior from undesirable behavior, and empowering the child to internalize this distinction process.  All parents do this, regardless of creed.  Catholicism provides a blue print to make this go more smoothly.

But why start now when they are so little?  Because I cannot hope that our children come to embrace these values later on as they are not the natural values to embrace.  It is natural for children to be rude, selfish, and wild. Instead of shaping his behavior through punishment (all the time), an external force, we are trying to give him a rooting in the whys behind the don’t-do-that.  Following your base instincts will not bring you closer to a God of love, and will not make you happy.  You have to practice self-discipline, and develop it from the get go, based on something that is higher than your parents.  Someone you are accountable to when no one is looking. If you have surrounded your child with a culture that backs up what you have shown them, then they can see from their friends, their friends’ parents, their school, and their environment a mirroring of values you hold true.

In conclusion, why not have God as a part of their routine?  Even if you are more spiritual than religious, consider how as a parent you give your child parameters and boundaries on all other fronts.  Why not organize their exposure to a Higher Power in the form of organized religion? It’s up to you how you present the routine of the Divine, and which traditions you emphasize, and accordingly you could give your child a better or different or more complete version than what you yourself received.

-Nell Alt

Everyday Holiness

11 Nov
The Beautiful St. Gemma Galgani

The Beautiful St. Gemma Galgani

When I was a little girl, I thought that when you died you went to Heaven, grew some feathers, and sprouted wings. If you were lucky, you would be granted a bow and arrow and were allowed by God to shoot people to help them fall in love. Have you ever heard of a more romantic 5 year old?!

Reality is (“St. Fiona”) that we do not become Angels; instead, if we make it past those pearly gates, we become Saints. There are two kinds of saints: capitol ‘S’ saints, and lower case ‘s’ saints (this is how I explain it to my students). Capitol ‘S’ Saints are those whom we know are in Heaven due to miracles associated with them or by their martyrdom (yup, that’s right–if you die for your faith–you go straight to Heaven!). These canonized Saints are the ones we grew up praying to and the ones we name our children after. Saints with a lower case ‘s’ are those saints who are our friends, family, loved ones, coworkers, etc, who pass on and enter Heaven, yet are not canonized by the Church, nor is there actual proof that they are indeed in Heaven.   (So, if you need clarification: if you make it to Heaven, you’re a saint!)

Most people would give two different answers to the questions, “Do you want to be a saint?” and “Do you want to go to Heaven?” Why does it seem unattractive to be asked to become a saint? Sainthood is often associated with holy people – people who are boring and have no fun – people we certainly are not (insert sarcasm here………….if you want). If we’re striving for Heaven, that often means that we might (certainly!) need to change a few things about the way we live our lives. This is hard! And humbling. The beauty of this struggle is that there are millions of people who have gone through this before us. (These are the S/saints.) We can pray to the S/saints anytime we want for guidance, prayers, and intercessions. They are in Heaven and so is God. So, why not ask for prayers from those who know, love and live with God?

With All Saints Day this month, remember: it’s not just a day to honor those who have gone before us, but it is also a day to look at our own lives and ask ourselves how we’re going to get to Heaven… because we are ALL called to become saints.

– Kari Elsen