Quotes and notes about saints
Invocation. “The Beatitudes, “Glenstal Abbey, Ireland
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¶ “The key question that every school of spirituality must answer is how to reconcile presence to the world with presence to God, or however you prefer to formulate it. How are we to overcome the duality and interrelate the two presences? This question runs through the history of spirituality.” —J.C. Guy, Saint Ignace de Loyola
¶ “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” —Dorothy Day
¶ “The world is waiting for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order. . . . Most people despair that [it] is possible. They cling to old ways and prefer the security of their misery to the insecurity of their joy. But the few who dare to sing a new song of peace are the new St. Francises of our time, offering a glimpse of a new order that is being born out of the ruin of the old.” —Henri Nouwen
¶ “When I give people food, they call me a saint. When I ask why there is no food, they call me a communist.” —Dom Helder Camara, former archbishop of Recife, Brazil
¶ “Let us plant dates even though those who plant them will never eat them. We must live by the love of what we will never see. This is the secret discipline. It is a refusal to let the creative act be dissolved away in immediate sense experience, and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren. Such disciplined love is what has given prophets, revolutionaries, and saints the courage to die for the future they envisaged. They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.” —Rubem Alves, Tomorrow’s Child
¶ “In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human, to be perfect—that is, whole, mature, fulfilled. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.” —William Stringfellow
¶ “From somber, serious, sullen saints, save us O Lord.” —Teresa of Avila
¶ “So the great Church of Christ came into being by ignoring the life of Christ…. The Fathers of the Church were good men, often saintly men, sometimes men who cared enough for Christ to die for him, but they did not trust him. They could not trust the safety of his church to his way of doing things. So they set out to make the church safe in their own way. Creeds and theologies protected it from individual vagaries; riches and power protected it against outside attacks. The church was safe. But one thing its ardent builders and defenders failed to see. Nothing that lives can be safe. Life means danger. The more the church was hedged about with confessions of faith and defended by the mighty of the earth, the feebler its life grew.” —Edith Hamilton
¶ “Maybe more than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy. Not happiness that comes and goes with the moments that occasion it, but joy that is always there like an underground spring no matter how dark and terrible the night. To be a saint is to be a little out of one’s mind, which is a very good thing to be a little out of from time to time. It is to live a life that is always giving itself away and yet is always full.” —Frederick Buechner
¶ “In a church where holy people were supposed to be perfect, austere, and forbidding, she prayed to be delivered from sour saints. An admirer once remarked on her voracious appetite: “For such a holy woman, you sure pack it in.” “Listen,” Teresa shot back, ‘when I pray, I pray; when I eat, I eat!’” —Mary Luti, writing about Teresa of Ávila, a prominent 16th century Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun and Roman Catholic saint
¶ “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” —St. Augustine
¶ “In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a pocket handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.” —Frederick Buechner
¶ “Truly! Truly! By God! Be as sure of it as you are that God lives: at the least good deed done here in this world, the least bit of good will, the least good desire, all the saints in heaven and on earth rejoice, and together with the angels their joy is such that all the joy in this world can’t be compared. But the joy of them all together amounts to as little as a bean when compared to the joy of God over good deeds. For truly, God laughs and plays.” –Meister Eckhart
¶ “What humility does for one is it reminds us that there are people before me. I have already been paid for. And what I need to do is prepare myself so that I can pay for someone else who has yet to come but who may be here and needs me.” —Maya Angelou
¶ “The whole case for Christianity is that [one] who is dependent upon the luxuries of life is corrupt, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck.” —G.K. Chesterton
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Hymn of lament. “Wishing tonight that tomorrow will never come / Countless dreams and loves and losses, I cry and cry and cry as though beaten down by rain / Don’t display me, not like this / I need something to keep on living / If I can’t even believe in myself, what can I believe in? / The answer is so close I can’t even see it / Shedding black tears / I am nothing. Filled with sorrow, / Unable to say a word / The pain is welling up inside me, and / I can’t bear this alone.” —English translation of lyrics to “Kuroi Namida” (Black Tears), Shavnabada and Gori Women’s Chorus
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Word: Saintliness breaks out at the beauty parlor. “I arrived for a cut at the very end of their workday and witnessed them provide a warm and very human circle of care for the only other client. This was a woman past my age who had called in a panic when her long wavy hair started coming out in handfuls as a result of her cancer treatment regimen.
“Now this was not my first time here, and in the past I’ve heard these women pass on some vicious gossip and fling barbed zingers at one another with glee. There was none of that this evening. Neither was there saccharine sentiments nor empty platitudes.
“Instead, they lovingly washed her hair and efficiently shaved off what remained, completely following the woman’s lead in conversation topics, which ranged from family doings to treatment experiences and side effects to the best way to fashionize her new look. Perhaps she would wear black lipstick and go Goth or maybe wear only one of her large hoop earrings for more of a pirate statement. They cut some stretchy black silky material into a headscarf and tied it into some beautiful stylish knots.
“And they held steady when she teared up as she faced her self in the mirror without her hair.
“It was beautiful. They were beautiful. She was beautiful.” —Amy Smith
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Benediction. “The Beatitudes (Adagio),” New College Choir, Oxford
4 November 2023