Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Homily All Saints Day 2007

One of the most common questions asked of priests…
either by Catholic folks who are confused about their faith
or by non-Catholics who have been mis-informed…
is… “Why do Catholics worship statues of saints?”

It is a good question.
It is a question that touches on one of the most significant and visible aspects
of our Catholic Christian life.
Significant because praying in the communion of saints sustains our spiritual lives.
Visible because our sacred images are recognized by people throughout the world,
people of every time and place.
People who are not Catholic…even those who are not Christian…
can recognize images of famous saints and of the Virgin Mary.

The question “Why do Catholics worship statues of saints?”
is one that is worth answering…
For not only is it the key that opens the door to understanding
why we focus attention on the saints…
but reflecting on this question also helps us understand
the deeper meaning of our uniquely Catholic prayer.

Confused Catholics and mis-guided non-Catholics
who come upon a faithful Catholic kneeling before an image of Mary
or of one of the saints…
and reciting the Rosary or other prayers…
also perhaps lighting a votive candle…
perceive that the person is on their knees worshiping the image
or making gods out of Mary and the Saints.

The truth is that Catholics do not worship the images of Mary and the saints…
or the persons they represent.

We have images of Mary and the saints in our churches and our homes
for much the same reason that we have pictures of beloved relatives
and statues of war heroes and famous statesmen.

We honor and cherish the memory of our family members who have inspired us
and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith…
and their photos in our homes keep their memory alive.

We honor those who have sacrificed for the sake of others
and dedicated their lives to serving God and our country
and their memorials help us to remember their sacrifice.

Our faith is especially important to us…
and so we honor the saints…the holy men and women
who have lived the faith we cherish with zeal and love.

The saints are the “heroes” of our Church…
priests, bishops, religious sisters and brothers, lay men, women, and children
who have been intimately united to Jesus Christ
have lived their own unique vocation in truth and love.

The statues, paintings, and icons of Mary and the saints that we display
remind us of their virtue and courage
and inspire us as we reflect on their holiness.

Sacred images teach us the story of the life of the Church…
and keep that story alive in our minds and hearts.

The saints are “friends of God” and they our “friends” too.

Our friendship with the saints is a two-fold blessing.

First, the saints stand as living examples of precisely what we are called to be.
When living a good, holy, Christian life seems to be more than we can handle…
we turn to the lives of the saints for direction and inspiration.
When following Christ amidst the temptations of this world seems overwhelming…
we find hope in knowing that the martyrs endured much worse…
even torture and death
and still kept the faith and remained pure.

In the trials of life, we Catholics do not despair.
Instead we show gratitude that we have friends
who have walked the journey of faith before us…and can show us the way.
As a lantern carried along a dark path through a dense forest…
the saints light the way along the dark path of our earthly journey
illuminating the way through the dense forest of temptation and trial.

Second, the saints actively give us the best help we can ask for in this life.
Their prayer of intercession before the throne of God
is powerful in obtaining the graces we need to live as God calls us
and to respond to life’s challenges.
The saints, who have been rewarded with heavenly glory for their holiness of life,
now stand before God and beg Him on our behalf for the grace we need.

Our constant prayer is that Mary and the saints will pray with us to God…
for our intentions and those of our loved ones.

We pray not to the saints…but with them to God…
who alone is the object of our worship and adoration.
In the Communion of Saints…
those who have lived lives of virtue and now live in Heaven
and we who strive to please God on earth
share in a brotherhood of prayer… a great family of faith!

Thanks be to God for the abundance of grace that is poured into our hearts
through the communion of the saints!

There is a saint for everyone…a spiritual companion for each one of us.

In striving to fulfill my priestly vocation, I turn to Saint John Vianney…
a parish priest from Ars, France who lived in the late 18th Century.
John Vianney was a shining example of holiness in a dark and time and place.
He is a model for priests of what is important in priestly life:
hearing confessions…which he did for 15 hours a day
teaching the truth of the faith
spending his time and resources on the church rather than on himself
taking time for prayer with Jesus.

John Vianney is a saint…but he is also my brother priest.
Though his holiness surpasses any I could ever hope to achieve…
he is with me…close to me always…to inspire me and to intercede for me.

For each of you…there is a saint who waits to be your spiritual friend.
Saint Therese of Lisieux has much to teach us all
about “doing little things with great love.”

Saint Gianna Molla…
a young mother who suffered serious illness during pregnancy
which threatened the life of her child…
and who sacrificed her life so that her unborn daughter could live…
is an inspiration for mothers and the pro-life work of the whole Church.

Saint Joseph…who cared for his beloved Mary and her Son Jesus…
is the model husband and father.
Wherever you find yourself in life…
whatever vocation or profession…
there is a saint to whom you can turn in the joys and sorrows of life.

As people of faith we need to read the lives of the saints…
to beg them for their prayers of intercession before God…
and with them to journey forward on the path to holiness.

Blessed shall you be if you hunger and thirst for righteousness
with the saints as your companions.

Your reward shall be great in Heaven!

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