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Father Muench Says...

Remembering my favorite saints

Nov. 2, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

All Saints Day is one of my favorite feast days in our Catholic Church liturgical year, a day to celebrate all the saints, the canonized ones and those that are not canonized. On this feast day, I celebrate all my favorite saints.

Let me first remind you that our Catholic Church has a system to declare that a person is truly a saint. After some study, it is determined that this person has lived a life of holiness and that they are certainly in Heaven with God. Also in our Church, there is a solemn ceremony in which Our Holy Father declares to the world that a person is truly a saint.

I am certain that you know many of the canonized saints. Each day of our liturgical year is dedicated as a feast day to one or more canonized saints. I have many favorites, like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Pope John XXIII, St. Bakhita, St. Andrew the Apostle (I was pastor of a parish dedicated to St. Andrew), and so many other saints.

I want you to know that I have a list of my own favorite saints who have not been canonized by the Church. They are very special people who have touched my life in a special way through their writings and teachings, and through the way in which they lived their lives. Some have been my friends. I just know that they were saints. Let me mention just a few: Catherine Doherty, the foundress of Madonna House, Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and author, and many others. They have touched my life in a profound way and still do.

Now, I want you to know that on my list of special saints, those uncanonized saints, I have included some from my own family: my mother, my father, a few of my aunts and uncles. I truly believe they are saints and have touched me and helped me find God in my life.

And while I am at it, I must add that I have many, many personal friends who I know are saints. I think of priest friends, my skiing buddies, and many priests and religious Sisters with whom I have worked with in various parishes. They were truly saints. And many of the laity, especially those who were parishioners in the various parishes where I served as pastor, I am certain I was blessed to have known who were saints.

By the way, I am also rather bold enough here to add to my list of favorite saints some who are still alive and active. Again, I have been blessed to know many saints during my time as a pastor. I have been led and guided by them.

You probably wonder how I decide if someone is a saint or going to be a saint. Well, I must admit that I depend a great deal upon the Lord’s guidance. Truly with the Lord’s help it is rather obvious. As with so many things in life it is the little things. Someone, somewhere gave me this definition of a saint: “A saint is someone who does ordinary things in a most extraordinary way.”

I have known many in my time as a priest who are anxious to tell me they will never be a saint because of present day failings and sins. As I study many of our canonized saints, they had times in their lives when they confess to us that they were sinners. However, they were sinners who found Jesus and transformed their lives. They learned how to bring the Holy Spirit into their lives. They began to follow the Lord Jesus. They lived the lives of saints.

All Saints Day: What a terrific feast day to remember so many! May they continue to show me the way to sanctity. I want to tell you about a friend who comes to confession to me and begins “Father, I’m no saint.” My immediate response is usually, “well, you better get busy. It is the only reason that we are down here.”

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