The Saints Club
"I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting!"
- The Apostles' Creed
One of the most important actions we can take to reach the goal of 'life everlasting' is to join a group of great people, a very special club if you like, called "The Communion of Saints". This club is the largest and most exciting association we can belong to, not just on earth but anywhere in the entire universe and all other universes beyond.
This club includes the most amazing variety of members; it includes those living on earth and those who have already lived here! Those who have already lived seem to have a bit more time to help us in our living, so we will focus on them. Who are they? There are some who quietly keep the club running and their names are not often known, except perhaps to immediate family. Then there are others who have done the most unbelievable things: some were so good at aiming at eternal life while on earth that they just simply slipped into it, without leaving even their bodies behind, one such fellow is Enoch "the friend of God" whom we read about in the Book of Genesis; then there is Mary of Nazareth - she did such a good job of it that we know that she was taken to heaven body and soul. But she wasn't the first, even if she is one of the most special of this group.
Quite the opposite of this were those who went off to eternal life and left their bodies behind so that we could witness how powerful God is that He can change the laws of nature - naturally, since He made them! Look at Catherine of Labouré - her body lies perfect in a glass coffin. You can go to see her next time you make a trip to France.
Padre Pio was another member of this club. He could be in two places at the same time, without your knowing it. He was also special in another way. He had the wounds of Jesus and suffered quite a lot for sinners. St. Francis of Assisi is also a very well known member of this club. He also had the same wounds and he could talk to the baby Jesus. Another special character is Queen Isabela of Portugal. She was giving bread to the poor and when her strict husband asked her what she was holding in her gown, she said "Roses". When she opened her mantle roses fell to the ground instead of the bread she had actually been carrying.
A very powerful member of this club was the holy Curée of Ars. He was so good at aiming at eternal life and making others do the same that the Devil used to plague him and even set his bed on fire. The Devil said to him that if there were only two more people in the whole of France like him, the Devil would not be able to set a foot in France. Imagine how powerful a single person on earth can be! Another example of the wonderful and amazing members of this club is St. Augustine. He was quite a busy young fellow and although he felt the call to be holy, he is reported to have said to God: "Make me chaste, but not just yet." And God did and he became a mighty saint. By the way, his mother was also a saint - it can run in families when it is done properly!
There is one more that we should talk about. That is St. Therese of Lisieux. I thought we should take a look at how she became a member of this exclusive club of friends of God, because she is good at showing us the way. She said that we are all able to love God in little things. She was so good at doing just this and of telling missionaries in far away lands how to go about loving God and getting God's help in doing their job that she was eventually given the title of Doctor of the Church. Not bad for a little nun in a convent who died in her early 30s. But what is also important for us is the message she gave us just before she died. She said: "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth."
The most amazing thing about these very special people is that, in addition to being great friends of God, they actually want to be our friends. St. Bernard says: "The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent…Let us long for those who long for us." They really want to help us. They love helping us in everything we ask which will put us or keep us on the road to eternal life. All we have to do is ask.
Now, this great club of saints is the one to which we get full membership when we are confirmed in the Church. All these saints - and there are hundreds and hundreds more - are all at our disposal. We need to make friends with them. We need to know who they are, where they come from, what their particular talents are and so on. After all, we are normally not too keen to tell strangers about our troubles. Once we know who these people are, then it is much easier to trust them with out friendship and our worries.
Some of you may wonder why you have had to go to catechism for so many years to reach this stage when you are able to decide as an adult that you want to be confirmed as members of this great group of people. The fact is that the Catholic Church is one very big family with many wonderful people and some great family traditions. In your own family you need to know a bit about your family history, who its members are, what they do, what your family thinks is important, how it celebrates important occasions, how each member fits in and what his or her job is. After all, it is pretty difficult to say that you belong to a family and when someone asks you "Who is your father?" you say, "I don't know", or someone asks you, "What did your grandfather do?" and you say, "I don't know." "Wasn't it you cousin who first climbed Mount Everest? "Oh, I don't know". After a while people will start wondering if you really belong to this family and if you should really get anything from it. So it is with your Catholic Family. You need to know something about its past, who the members are, how it likes to do things, what it likes to celebrate, who can help with what, and even who we can boast about to our friends! This is what you have been learning up to now. You are nearly there. You have been a junior member of the club of special people called "the Communion of Saints." Now you are about to become a full member.
Just like you choose a sponsor on earth to help you run the last lap for membership, you should also get help from a member of this club who has "been there and done that"; someone who has the right contacts to "make things happen" for you. This will be your patron saint. It is a good idea to get to know about some saints before you make your choice. Just like us, they are all highly individual and a really interesting bunch with many talents. Most importantly, remember that they were just like you and me; they just found a way to make great use of all the graces that God gave them. So can we, especially with their help.
You may feel a bit worried about how you should go about choosing your patron saint and joining the Communion of Saints. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. Joining the club is a great thing but it takes some doing as you may have noticed from the bits on the saints. You need all the help you can get to act like a full member. There are jobs to be done and the reputation of the club to uphold. This is quite a task and this is where our greatest helper comes in. It is the same helper that gave the Apostles the courage to face the crowds and to tell them that they had just done a terrible thing, that they had killed their Saviour. It took a lot of courage to do that and Jesus had to send the Holy Spirit to help them. We are very lucky because Jesus is such a good friend of ours that He sends the exact same Spirit to us to help us with our membership. Not bad, we are in league with truly great saints.
Have an adventure exploring the interesting lives of the saints and brushing up on the family history of the Catholic Church. Then, with all the help that the great "Communion of Saints" can give you, enjoy becoming full members of the greatest club ever.
"Let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labours. You should sing as wayfarers do - sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going." - St. Augustine
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