Like a book’s acknowledgments page, telling the stories of the saints reminds us that we didn’t get here on our own. Since the beginning of the church, there have been empires to be resisted, riches to be given away, and dishes to be washed. Not so different than today. So follow along as we chronicle the lives of some of the saints who inspire us. We hope you’re inspired, too.
Martha was a disciple of Jesus, and she loved, supported, and hosted him for dinner, as friends do. Yet Martha, like all of us, sometimes became bogged down by the details of her hospitality, and as a result, lost sight of the presence of the God she was serving — the God who was literally right in front of her. In my own story I, too, failed to encounter God when God was right in front of me, present in my friends, distracted as I was by the details of my hospitality.
The woman who preached the first Easter sermon is known more for a fictionalized relationship with the Christ than for the words of light and life she brought to the world. The woman who stood by the cross until Jesus took his last breath is characterized by sexual promiscuity — one that is nowhere within the recounting of her ministry and her faithfulness.
I remember talking to my mom on my walk into work not long after the death of Freddie Gray. She had been watching the news and was wondering what my sense of things was on the ground.
“Are there protests?” she asked. “Are people upset?”
In her life, St. Elizabeth went from being a princess to Russian nobility, to nun, to prisoner and martyr. Some roles were her choice — some were not. The state can be fickle. Yet all the while, Elizabeth never stopped using her gifts to contribute to society
I am driving down Western Avenue in Chicago trying to remember a prayer by heart. I drive this way most days. It’s a speedy through-route to points of interest south of me. Suddenly, the overpass that took the brunt of that traffic is gone, and we are left with one, wide road. The middle lanes are closed to rebuild. We drive on the outer roads, either side of the construction zone, banked up against the chain link fences that keep us out, and the workers in, I suppose.
Would St. Justin Martyr recognize us as Christians? After reading his, “Discourse to the Greeks,” I have my reservations. I doubt he would recognize me.
I keep finding myself repeating “it’s 2016” to my friends and family, on social media, and in my head. We read about all these things in history books that actually didn’t even happen that long ago like women “winning” the right to vote, schools being desegregated, or the first president of the United States having some melanin.
Hers is a hidden and uncertain story, but it is said that the martyr St. Crescentia of Lucania was part of “the help” in a Roman senator’s household. She is one of a trio of holy martyrs that also includes St. Vitus and St. Modestus, all originally from Sicily. She might not even have been real, if we’re to trust modern, historical standards.
When I am alone, and everything is quiet, I feel the weight of the holy pressing in like a warm comforter tucked up tight around me. When I am alone in this quiet, God feels so close, so tangible — so present.
I love Saint Mark. I truly do. But if the apostles were in a line-up and we threw Mark in there with them, I wouldn’t be able to tell him from second Judas. Frankly I wouldn’t be able to identify half of them. At this point, some folks have likely paused to Google, “there were two Judases!?"