Some say praying to saints is both superstitious and distracting. It’s neither.

Steve and I have been friends since kindergarten. More than half a century! He left home, for Dallas, right after he graduated from high school. Got a job in the travel industry and never thought of coming home to Kansas, except to visit.

A year ago Steve moved back to Kansas, after a series of setbacks that would crush someone not as strong. He is now working as a pharmacy tech, a job few could do well. You are on-point for hours with people. No mistakes and no let-ups.

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Last Friday night, he sent this text:

As you know, the last thing we ask a person picking up a prescription in the pharmacy is for their address, so that we can make sure that we grabbed the correct bag out of the bin. A customer today responded, “400 Old Manor Road.” Wow! Immediate flood of many emotions. My almost auto-reflex was to say, “No, that’s my address! I was able to hold that back, but I was definitely misty-eyed completing the transaction. It just hit too close to home…literally.

 

I had a minute to think before answering. I knew that no text of mine would adequately respond to the event. Seeing a stranger in front of you, realizing that this person now lives in your childhood home. I wrote:

Oh dear, my friend. I can’t imagine what that would be like. We have to believe that home is something that moves with us, that becomes a part of us. No one can take it away.

 

It wasn’t much, but it wasn’t pabulum on my part. Iti s what we celebrate in the Solemnity of All the Saints.  Souls aren’t our invisible selves. They are the selves that we become during the course of our lives. To see a soul, one would have to see all the people we have loved, the sorrows and joys that have become a part of us. Instead of picturing a soul as the invisible part of yourself—not much of an image there, is there?—picture the soul as a world of care and concern, a world that has a name—your own name—a world that has been called into being by God. When a soul goes to heaven, a cosmos of desire and deeds has been claimed by God. Entering heaven, the saints become a part of God. Their stories are taken up into God, become something that can never be erased, that shines with a luster that only the Lamb can give.

We often pray, picturing Jesus, to the best of our abilities, knowing that our image has small correspondence to the one who actually lived so long ago and so far away. When we pray to the saints, especially those whom we have known and loved—say, the folks who used to live with us in our childhood home—we pray to a part of the Christ that we can recognize and claim as our own.

Some people think that praying to saints, honoring them, is both superstitious and distracting. It’s neither. There is only one will in heaven, that of God the Father. The saints do not change the mind of God—at least, not against the will of God—but they do give us some insight into the mystery of God. Home has gone to heaven.

400 Old Manor Road. Think of the Christened world that address contained. Steve’s Mom raised him and his sister there, after her divorce, prevailing over prejudice and poverty. On this solemnity of all the saints, we insist that she is not a memory. She is a soul, a story, claimed by Christ.

Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14  1 John 3: 1-3  Matthew 5: 1-12a

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Henry George
11 months 2 weeks ago
Thank You, As someone who has moved too often and lost contact with friends what you said was quite meaningful.

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