Saints in the ordinary


After this I saw a great crowd,
impossible to count,
from every nation, race,
people and tongue,
standing before the throne
and the Lamb,
clothed in white,
with palm branches in their hands
Revelation 7:9

Today, the feast of All Saints, we remember those who have lived among us showing us signs of the love of God, As Vatican II’s Constitution on  the Church (Lumen Gentium), put it: “God speaks to us in them and offers us a sign of His Kingdom….”

One of my favorite churches in Rome was Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola, the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Island [in the Tiber], which has become the shrine of the New Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. Relics of some of these martyrs are found on the side altars and at the front of the church is a beautiful, detailed icon of he New Martyrs, those who have “washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14)


They represent only some of those who have witnessed to God’s love. If we look we can see “saints” in our midst who speak to us of God.

It is all too easy, however, to look at the saints as extraordinary heroes. But Thomas Merton, in No Man Is An Island, reminds us to seek the glory of God in the ordinary:

It is supreme humility to see that ordinary life, embraced with perfect faith, can be more saintly and more supernatural than a spectacular ascetical career. Such humility dares to be ordinary, and that is something beyond the reach of spiritual pride. Pride always longs to be unusual. Humility not so. Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with His glory.

So today we are called to be signs of the Kingdom in the ordinary details of every day life.


One response to “Saints in the ordinary

  1. This is lovely, John — especially the affirmation by you and Merton about the importance of the ‘ordinary life’ that the vast majority of us lead day in and day out, much of the time perhaps wondering if our mundane life has any meaning, or makes a difference, in the general scheme of things.

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