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.
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.
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.
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!?"
I don’t practice the corporal works of mercy.
The realization left me stunned. As I sat in a cluster of retreatants I thought about what that meant. Sure, I donate money to various charities, participate in food drives, and donate clothes that I no longer need, but I do not practice the corporal works of mercy — I have other people or institutions do it for me.
The poor Italians! Every March 17 across Ireland, United States, and around the globe, there are thousands of parties, parades, and festivals celebrating St. Patrick. Sadly, the feast of St. Joseph — the patron saint of Italy — celebrated just two days later on March 19 gets comparatively little attention. But Pope Francis has been trying to change this. Three years ago, he chose to have his inauguration as the Bishop of Rome on the Feast of St. Joseph. On that occasion, he hailed Joseph as a person of “unfailing presence and utter fidelity” who is “constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own.”
When first married, my wife and I joined a PC(USA) church, partially out of our commitment to male-female equality. So at our new members’ class when we were asked, in a darker-timeline version of a mixer, to try and name the apostles from memory, the table my wife and I were at came up with twenty apostles (not quite what the leader had in mind). The Twelve, plus Matthias, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Apollos, Andronicus, and of course — not to leave out my wife’s favorite — Junia.