Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saints - All That Matters In The End

St. Francis De Sales

Christ established his Church almost two thousand years ago.  The last two millennia have been filled with countless holy people, many of whom we honor with a feast day on the Liturgical Calendar.  Today, for example, is the feast day of well-known and well-loved saint, St. Francis De Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.  St. Francis, who died almost four centuries ago, was ahead of his time in his concern for the devotional life of laypeople. I'll have more to say about this wonderful Saint in the future.
    Today we also honor some less well known saints. For instance, we find the following in Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

St. Macedonius: Hermit of Syria, called Kritophagus, the barley-eater. He lived forty years on barley moistened in water, till finding his health impaired, he ate bread, reflecting that it was not lawful for him to shorten his life to shun labours and conflicts, as he told the mother of Theodoret; persuading her, when in a bad state of health, to use proper food, which he said was physic to her. Theodoret relates many miraculous cures of sick persons, and of his own mother among them, by water on which he had made the sign of the cross, and that his own birth was the effect of his prayers, after his mother had lived childless in marriage thirteen years. The saint died, ninety years old, and is named in the Greek menologies.

St. Macedonius may not be as well known as St. Francis de Sales, especially not in the western Church, but important details of his life have been preserved.  We can see that his story shows us a model of holiness, but also provides a salutary lesson about the importance of respecting the physical bodies God gave us, and also about the efficacy of prayer.
    In some cases, however, we know little beyond the names of some of the holy men and women who appear on the liturgical calendar.  Today, for instance, we also honor:

St. Mardonius: Martyr of Asia Minor with Eugene, Metellus, and Musonius, burned at the stake at an unknown location. (from www.catholic.org/saints)

That's pretty scanty compared to what we know about St. Francis de Sales, or even St. Macedonius, but it is more than we know about Saints Thyrsus and Projectus.  Their biography at Catholic Online [here] is rather brief; it reads, in full:

Martyrs of an unknown year and location. Their Acts [i.e., histories] are no longer extant.

That’s it.  We don’t know when they lived, where they lived, or what they did. All we know is that they are Saints . . . which is really all that matters in the end.  St. Paul says:

. . . Run so as to win.  Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.  They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

That crown is the crown of sanctity. We are all called to be Saints with God in Heaven, but we can’t all be a St. Francis De Sales, of even a Saint Projectus or Thyrsus.  Most of us, even if we persevere to the end, will be just like the vast majority of saintly Christians through the centuries, forgotten a few generations after our passing from this world.  All the things that seem so important to us today will likewise have disappeared.  And that’s fine, because there’s only one thing that ultimately matters, that eternally matters: that, by the Grace of God, we be Saints.