Saints Made for Sinners

Yes, you read that right: saints made for sinners. The feast of All Benedictine Saints is a huge encouragement to those of us who are constantly sliding into sin and failure. We don’t want saints who seem to have led impossibly holy lives from their mother’s womb: the kind who never say an unkind word or do an ungenerous act, who have a natural attraction to prayer and penance and everything we have to struggle with. Nor do we want saints whose lives are incredibly dramatic, full of road-to-Damascus conversions and deeds of holy derring-do. We want saints who are ordinary; who battle with temptation much as we do; who become holy through lives of unspectacular fidelity and goodness. In short, we want saints made of the same material as we are, because we too want to become holy, and if the only model of holiness available to us were the extraordinary one sketched above, we would be spiritual no-hopers.

The fact that we aren’t spiritual no-hopers is largely attributable to all those obscure  saints whose names we’ll never know this side of eternity but who became people the Light shone through. Among them must be thousands of Benedictines — monks, nuns, sisters, oblates and confraters. They show us that we too can become holy, just by being what we are meant to be. There is nothing grand or heroic about being a Benedictine, nothing particularly inspiring. We are spiritual plodders, the ‘poor bloody infantry’ of the Church, serving together under the same banner, standing side by side in the fraterna acies of the community and gradually — oh, how gradually! — learning what it means to follow Christ the Lord. We fight the good fight with what St Benedict called the strong and glorious weapons of obedience and hope, one day, to share everlasting life with all who have loved and served God. Let us ask the prayers of the Benedictine saints we commemorate today, that we too may be granted the grace of perseverance and attain the goal for which we strive.

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8 thoughts on “Saints Made for Sinners”

  1. My goodness Sr, you never cease to amaze me. What a beautiful lady you are.

    ‘Poor bloodly infantry of the church, serving together under the same banner’. My, how wonderful.

    One does hope the ‘common man in the street’ reads your blog today, as they will most certainly relate to it.

    Well done, fellow saint. Bless you!

  2. I have always admired St Benedict for providing a Rule that provides for a balanced life for ordinary people. That is nearly all of us. By being our ordinary, “boring” selves but in the right way we can actually get somewhere. I don’t have to climb spiritual mountains or practice extreme asceticism in order to be the best me that I can be. Although a Carmelite, Saint Therèse of Lisieux seems to have followed a similar approach in her teaching of her “little way”, if not always in her personal practice. Let’s just do ‘normal’ but really well!

    • Dear Pam, as a third generation Australian, one finds your comment a little confusing.

      One is also of the opinion that the content of Sr Catherine’s writings is always exemplary and of the highest possible standard.

      Today has been a day of sorrow for France and the city of Paris. May we be a little more generous, caring and thoughtful in our dealings with others.

      • Thank you Michael. I take your point.
        I was only referring to the term “no-hopers” which is a common expression in Australia.
        Indeed, the events in Paris do cause us to reflect sadly about violence and extremism in our world. Our PM Malcolm Turnbull has expressed Australia’s solidarity with France during this difficult time.

        • Dear Pam, thank you for your lovely reply. You are indeed correct, ‘no-hopers’ has indeed been a common expression in Australia for as long as I can remember, as much as I dislike it.

          It’s an expression that sadly often reflects the reality of the situation, and I felt that Sr Catherine had used it appropriately in the context of what she was writing about.

          I’m heartened to know that Malcolm Turnbull has expressed the solidarity that the Australian people feel with the people of France. He has also shown wisdom in his recent comments regarding the refugee crises in Europe.

          Thank you again, bless you!

  3. Thank you for including us oblates as possible Benedictine saints!

    If we are “the poor, bloody infantry of the Church,” may we give service and find healing in Pope Francis’ metaphorical Church as “field hospital.”

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