O when the saints go marching in …..
Mmmmm – you may be confused ‘why’ this topic when All Saints is on 1st November.
There is method in my madness.
We commemorate Saints, even more recent ones, for all sorts of reasons (one of the more recent ones Mother Teresa became a Saint on 4.09.16). Local churches celebrate their own Saint on what is called a Patronal Festival (for us St Catherine of Alexandria – 4th Century martyr – and our Patronal is on 25th November which we celebrate on the nearest Sunday)
There is a cluster of Saints which were the original 12 Apostles (with Judas replaced to keep the number 12).
In some spiritual disciplines – for example in the monastic movement throughout the ages – these days were days for fasting (in addition to Advent and Lent and possibly Fridays). How many of the Apostles can you name and for extra points, how many of their dates do you know ? (answers at the bottom) There are 3 of them in May followed by the steady trickle through the rest of the months of the year – so now you know why I am doing this Musings here.
In scripture we are told that since the time of Christ, his new covenant family are ALL saints and that image is developed in scenes painted for us in St John’s Revelations where all the saints gather in worship. In the mean time we have the people like St Catherine and the Apostles of old and more recent additions like St Teresa who are saints with a capital S. For some people these Saints are an example for us to follow, pre-dating the hordes of celebs and football players who now fill that role for many young people. For others, perhaps from a particular church tradition, these Saints intercede for us, lending spiritual power to our own prayers. For yet others, these Saints are never far away, cheering us on in our discipleship and encouraging us especially in difficult times. Not unlike angels but perhaps a little less ethereal, a bit more like us. Of course there are the 7 archangels of whom 3 are also saints St Gabriel and St Michael and St Raphael. And they have their joint Feast Day on 29th September.
Certainly, from the lives, and sometimes the deaths, of these Saints there are things we can learn, challenges they hold up to us like a mirror. As such they are a resource for growth in faith, along with bible reading and prayer and sacraments, and meeting with others in the family of faith. And perhaps in these times when some of those disciplines are denied us (sacraments , meeting together) we can revisit this resource and all you need is the internet to be honest. So whether you’re going to fast on the apostolic saints days or you just want to do some snooping generally to see what might be interesting, what might be a further step on your own journey…. May you find blessing and enrichment.
James 01.05 + Philip 03.05. + Matthias 14.05. + Peter 29.06. + James 25.07. + Bartholomew 24.08. + Matthew 21.09. + Simon 28.10 + Jude 28.10. + Andrew 30.11. + Thomas 21.12. + John 27.12.