All the Saints

All Saints Day, November 1, the day when all the saints who don’t have their own Feast Days are celebrated, has me reflecting on other saints.  Who are the saints who have not yet been recognized as such?  Who are saints who have had a particular impact on my life?

Three saints who spring to mind immediately for me as ones who have had an impact on my life are Sr. Rose Mary Dougherty, Desmond Tutu, and my cousin Gary, none of whom have been officially recognized.  While none of them are perfect, all of them have provided me with glimpses of God.  All of them have taught me about soulful leadership.

Sr. Rose Mary Dougherty served on the staff of the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation when I participated in the program in the mid-eighties.  Wise, witty, and funny, she lived and loved well.  Extremely insightful, she pierced through illusion quickly and had the habit of regularly raising the penetrating question that punctured any self-importance or self-righteousness I was carrying.  When she died recently, I felt a sharp sense of loss.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, leader of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa in the mid-nineties, suffered under apartheid.  Then, through prayer, he learned the power of forgiveness to transform suffering into compassion.  Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he helped South Africa avert a bloodbath and find its way into the future.

My cousin Gary had a rough start in life.  As he grew, I watched him turn to God and discover God’s healing power.  He wanted to pass on the compassion he had received, first by serving as a pastor and then by working with at-risk youth and young adults, training them with the skills they needed to find employment and succeed in life.

I experienced all three of these saints as not only giving deeply from their hearts, but also as having a light touch.  Laughing easily, helping others feel at home, and being down-to-earth are gifts shared by all three.  Saintliness does not preclude lightheartedness, indeed lightheartedness is often one sign of the Spirit’s work in a person.

Who are the saints who have had an impact on your life?  Whether recognized officially as saints or not yet recognized as saints, in whom do you see God? Who has been a spiritual leader for you? Who has invited you to follow a path of deeper engagement with Holy Mystery? If you’re like me, the unsung saints may be just as important, if not more so, than the official ones.  This All Saints Day, honor the saints who have inspired you and helped you along the way.

(This is a further development of the October 2017 blog.)

 

 

 

2 Responses to “All the Saints”


  1. 1 julettclair October 31, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you for this reflection which encourages me to do my own search. Jimmy Carter comes to mind as an exemplary man of God, always seeing who or where he can best be a servant of Christ. Brother David Steindl-Rast with his humility and simplicity taught me great lessons about a grateful heart. Professor Tina Beattie works tirelessly for justice on many fronts, but particularly for issues close to women’s hearts. And you, Margaret, with your gentle and loving heart – combined with the other three give me a sense of compassion and hope for the future.


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