One of my highlights in Faith Formation at St. Francis Xavier happened a few years ago. As part of our lesson about All Saints Day we asked a group of 5th graders to explain who a saint was. One of our young people said “saints are people the light shines through.” What a wonderful definition! I think of this often. The Early Church used this image to teach before we had books and classes and more. Think of the many stained glass windows you have seen. Can you picture one that caught your imagination? One of my favorites is in St. Marcus in Clear Lake. It is a picture of Saint John XXIII.
Then Pope John XXIII had a great impact on my formation. I was in middle school during Vatican II. This council helped us take a look at who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ in today’s world. Where was our focus? How were we helping others imagine God’s plan for the world? Not only does the light shine through him in the window I see so often. But he helped the light shine through the living Church in many new and forgotten ways.
This wonderful image of light shining through the saints also helps us to see Christ shining through them in their lives. Think of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and how Christ’s light impacted many because of her ministry. St. Peter’s wonderful impulsive and spontaneous spirit is Christ’s light shining through him. There are some special women I know who I think about this year in a new way. Diane graciously met people with a warm smile and listening ear. Mary brought joy and laughter to all in spite of the fact that she buried two sons in the past few years. Reta was a gracious and warm woman who enjoyed life with family and friends. Her love rediated wherever she was. All three of these women who have shaped my life for many years died recently. This year they are a part of the Communion of Saints in a new way. We can be grateful for all the people who let the light shine through them. As we see their light, they in turn, encourage us to find our own part of that Christ light living in us.
So where are you finding inspiration these days? Who provides encouragement on your path? How have you seen the Spirit work through the gifts of another in a way that helps you trust that the Spirit will work through your own gifts? Who helps you remember you are not alone?
Here’s a prayer by Jan Richardson to help us celebrate this season.
God of the generations,
when we set our hands to labor,
thinking we work alone,
remind us that we
carry on our lips
the words of prophets,
in our veins
the blood of martyrs,
in our eyes
the mystics’ visions,
in our hands
the strength of thousands.
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC