Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
What a lineup of saints we have this week!
We celebrate the feast of St. Vincent De Paul on Sept. 27 — one of the great patron saints of charitable works. (He’s also one of the patron saints of the archdiocese. The chapel at the Cardinal Rigali Center is named in his honor, and the seminary was run and staffed for over 170 years by Vincentians!)
We celebrate the feast of St. Wenceslaus on Sept. 28 — known as a great Christian ruler.
We celebrate the feast of St. Jerome on Sept. 30 — one of the Church’s great Scripture scholars.
We celebrate the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux on Oct. 1 — one of the great patron saints of prayer.
Charity (St. Vincent), implementation of Christian faith in policy (St. Wenceslaus), Bible study (St. Jerome) and prayer (St. Therese) — it sounds like the blueprint of a vibrant parish life!
There are three lessons I’d like to consider from the saints we celebrate this week.
First, in relation to diversity.
The world presents diversity as an absolute value: “all diversity is good.” The Church, however, thinks of diversity in relation to the Body of Christ. There’s a diversity that is rooted in the Body of Christ and contributes to the growth of the Body of Christ. That’s the diversity we see in this week’s saints. But there’s also a diversity of sin in the world — a diversity that separates us from the Body of Christ. We have only to watch the news to see this kind of diversity! The saints this week challenge us to think of diversity in a deeper way.
Second, in relation to suffering.
We’re reading from the book of Job all week, and Job represents all the suffering of humanity. What does it take to address that suffering? Charity. Policies that reflect Christian values. A deeper relationship with the Bible. Prayer. Precisely the things we see in this week’s saints! They provide a template for responding to the needs of the world, especially the suffering of the world.
Finally, in relation to All Things New.
As we begin to consider changes in our parishes and schools, we can ask ourselves this question: Can we foster that kind of diversity for the sake of mission, the kind of diversity we see in the saints? If we ask that question — rather than simply “can we keep this building open?” — then we’ll be asking a more fruitful question to guide our change.