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Father Muench Says...

God has crowded my life with saints

Nov. 8, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I begin today with a prayer of gratitude to my God for placing so many saints in my life.

November, which begins with All Saints Day, is the month for remembering saints.  For me that precious feast day is about my saints, those who have touched and continue to form my life.  They have guided me to discover who I am and who I should be.  They have shown me in a special way God’s great love and God’s great love for me.

Most of my saints are not canonized.  I do have a close devotion of the traditional, the canonized saints.  I have a long list of my favorite saints – here I will only mention St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare. I have been privileged to visit Assisi many times; it is a very holy place.  I want to add here the Blessed Mother, Mary.  I know we don’t think of her as a regular saint, but, devotion to Mary is an important part of my life.  I love Mary’s rosary.  The rosary is a central part of my prayer life.

We, Christians, have found wisdom and guidance from the saints. Each day of the Church year is designated as a feast day of certain saints.  Whenever a person is canonized as a saint, the Church designates a feast day for him or her, like March 17th for St. Patrick and March 19th for St. Joseph. In many countries, a new born infant is named for the saint of that day. 

Some saints went straight to their heavenly goal.  Other saints fell, stumbled, blundered, before finally getting it right.  But all have expanded the possibilities of human love and courage.

Such examples are not confined to the roll of official saints.  All around us there are men and women, whose stories guide us on our journey, people in whom the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor, have joined in an extraordinary degree.

So, each All Saints Day, I remember my saints.  Most of them will not be known to you – they are my saints.  I hope that you have recognized the saints in your life.  You and I have been guided and formed by others.  Look on them as saints – your saints.  A saint is anyone who brings you to the presence of God.  They understand God’s great love.  They are truly in love with God.

We, Catholics, know that Jesus has taught us that we are a loved people.  God loves us passionately and compassionately.  I have learned God’s great love through the saints who have been part of my life.

My list of saints begins back with my own family as a child and growing up.  I thank God for the family he gave to me.  They are among my saints – my mother, my father – and all the rest.  They certainly helped lead me that I would allow God to be part of my life.

There are some of my saints – not canonized – but well known religious figures.  They are known through their writings and talks.  I now think immediately of Thomas Merton.  His writings had a profound influence on me – starting back in high school.  I am certain that Merton had a real influence on me as I considered my vocation.
In this regard, I also think of my friend, Catherine Doherty.  She was the saint who founded the lay community of Madonna House.  As a young priest, I discovered Catherine and Madonna House.  Each time I visited her and spent time at Madonna House I was touched ever more with the realization of God’s great love for us all – and for me.  They continue to help me on my journey of life.

Most of my saints are lay men and women – people who became part of my life through the various communities I served as a priest and pastor.  I have met and worked with so many who are truly saints – families that became part of my own family.  They led me to a deeper recognition of God’s great love – for us all and for me. 

I hope they are not surprised that I see them as saints.  They are.  Personally, they showed me how importantly God work in our lives – and especially in mine as a priest.  Each time I prepare a homily I think of my saints.
Yes, there are many others.  There are the teachers – many of them religious Sisters from my childhood.  There are many priests who guided and taught me during my seminary days.  All truly saints.  They made my life all that it should be.  And then there are the innumerable friends who helped me to make my life better.

So I pray in gratitude – God has crowded my life with saints.

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