No Spooks!
Off the Wall, Oct
21, 2013

Tomorrow we will be celebrating All Saints Day. No, it won’t be a time of spooks whereby we will have to hide in closets or under our beds in fear that someone or something will jump out of nowhere and scare the willies out of us.

Instead, it is a very beautiful day. However, unless you understand what a saint really is, you won’t appreciate the greatness of this annual occasion.

According to the dictionary, a saint is “Any of certain persons of exceptional holiness of life formally recognized by canonization.” Wikipedia.org states that there are more than 10,000.

I use the reference book, “Saints, A Year in Faith and Art, published by Rosa Giorgi, 2005 edition. It is crammed full of stories relating the various background and walks of life these people lived to evangelize Christian faith.

It wasn’t long ago, I received a phone call by a fellow Holy Name Society member of Holy Family Parish who stated, “Have you read the many stories of saints?” followed by “Each led a most interesting life. It really makes for great reading. I wish I had more time to spend finding out more about each.”

Those statements should speak volumes. Here was a fellow that literally stumbled into a periodical about some people, men and women, who stood strong for Jesus Christ and most were martyred for their beliefs.

I was in a Bible study class a year or two ago when the question was raised, “Could you give up your life for your faith?” Because of the silence I can only conclude, there were no eager beavers.

Let me site some examples.

“Inigo Lopez was born in the castle of Loyola in the Basque region in 1491. He was brought up to be a soldier, but was wounded in battle. During his convalescence he read a life of Christ and a book about the saints, which led to his conversion. He changed his name to Ignatius, spent a long time living as a hermit, and studied philosophy. Together with several followers, he took vows of poverty and chastity and promised to serve the Church, eventually founded a new order, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which was approved in 1540. He died in Rome in 1556.”

“The first martyrs in Africa were Charles Lwanga and twelve other youths who were servants of Mwanga, king of Buganda, a region in today’s Uganda. Having converted to Christianity, they were killed at Kampala in 1886 because they declared themselves willing to pray until death. After them another nine companions suffered the same fate. The persecutions continued until 1887, with much loss of life. They were canonized in 1964.”

The third story tells of Saint Genesius of Rome as told by en.wikipedia.org. It says that the theatrical leader was performing in Rome one day before the Emperor Diocletian, “wishing to expose Christian rites to the ridicule of his audience, pretended to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. At the start of the play, Genesius lay down on the stage as if sick. Two other actors asked what was wrong. He said he felt a weight that he wanted removed. Hence, two other actors, dressed as a priest and exorcist, were called in. They ask what he wanted. He replied, ‘A baptism.’ Thereupon, he said, he saw a vision of angels bearing a book with all his sins inscribed. The actor portraying the priest asked him: ‘My child, why did you send for me?’ At this point, Genesius claimed to actually see angels and asked to be baptized himself on stage. Enraged, Diocletian had him turned over to Plautia, prefect of the praetorium, for torture. When Genesius persisted in his faith, he was beheaded,” it said.

And to think tomorrow, we will be honoring these three saints, along with over 10,000 others willing to go to their deathbed standing firm on their faith, should leave a mark on each one of us. That, my friends, means we too, who call ourselves Christians, must also do the same.

By truly believing in John 3:16, we recognize Christ’s existence, His death on the cross, resurrection and fullness of life upon ascending into heaven to be with the Father. But more so, we also realize the presence of the saints, among others, who are also alive there. They will intercede or relay our requests to Jesus who in turn will tell God. Now tell me, folks, how great is that?


- Paul J. Volkmann
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