Something I find most gratifying
about the saints is that they exhibit
characteristics that we find in ourselves.
After all, who canít relate to
St. Francisí love of creation or St.
Ceciliaís deep appreciation for
music? When havenít we wrestled
with moments of crippling doubt
like St. Joseph?
And there is a saint for every issue:
underappreciated in your job as a
coffin maker? Invoke St. Stephen
the Martyr! A fugitive with a heavy
conscience? Appeal to St. Brigid of
Ireland! Plagued by an infestation of
caterpillars? Voice your woes to St.
Magnus of FŁssen!
Iíve always had a great affinity for the
saints. They have been my grace-filled
tour guides along lifeís uneven journey,
leading me to smoother paths.
I See Dead People
But one drawback to being a fan of the
saints is that they are, with all due
respect, dead. Their life stories are
astounding but sometimes beyond my
modern-day comprehension. Book
illustrations are one-dimensional.
Thatís why statues of these venerated
people are the next best thing.
While saints and statues are not
for worship, they are sources of encouragement
for me. And I need only sit
down in the nearest church or stroll
through a cemetery to be in such good
company. They evoke a quiet rush of
St. Anthony of Padua, with his docile
gaze, inspires a simple grace. St. Joan of
Arc stirs passion and resilience. Renderings
of the Virgin Mary can soothe
a wearied heart as only a mother can.
These saintly statues are more than
just clay or bronze shaped by an artistís
hand. They are figures of motivation,
something I lack on occasion. Though
motionless, they encourage me onward
in my journey. While silent, they
speak whole litanies of faith which
fill my heart. For at least a moment, Iím
Not far from where I live is a cemetery
for the Sisters of Charity which has
a replica of Michelangeloís Pietŗ.
For many years I would take walks
through the grounds and make
every effort to stop by to admire it.
Though it depicts a tragic moment,
I would marvel at its artistry, its significance
and the redemptive power
of that moment.
For the first time in many summers
I took a recent stroll back there
to see it. Acid rain had pounded the
statue, but it was still something
breathtaking to look at.
As I made my way out of the
cemetery that day, I stopped to gaze
at the statue of St. Elizabeth Ann
Seton. The figure is lifted slightly off the
ground, and just underneath her is a
steady flow of water that circulates into
a small pool.
St. Francis would be proud: Birds
of countless varieties drink and bathe
underneath her tiny feet. It imparts a
calm in me before I leave to rejoin a
Statues such as these are my gentle
reminder to move forward. The saints
may have stumbled along the journey
but they were committed to their destination.
As such, these men and
women are my coaches and my confidantes
along lifeís meandering walk
The saints remind me that, much
like their sculpted counterparts, both
my life and my faith can be unbreakable
works of art.
Next: Advent/Christmas Calendars