A collection of saints


July 31st brought Ignatius of Loyola into morning prayer. However, he didn’t stay there for long. My thoughts moved on to another Saint who has had a significant influence – Teresa of Avila.

Teresa hi-jacked me in 1980. I wanted to go to Toledo but boarded the wrong bus and ended up in her convent in Avila.

That was a big beginning.

Ignatius and Teresa.

Now, in prayer, I have three more, a trio of saints who can’t be excluded.

So that’s a total of five. Five fingers pointing to the moon.

Do you have a collection of saints who come into your prayer?

Do you chat with them?

Do you find out what you and they have in common?

Of course, we don’t worship the fingers that point to the moon, but when we engage with them, we learn a lot about ourselves and our own journey.

What do my handful 0f Saints have in common with each other?

They were not afraid to be human, and they were devoted disciples of Christ Jesus.

Ignatius was an impulsive man who learned through trial and error. His reward was the gift of discernment which he passed on to us.

Teresa of Avila had the courage, but I suspect she was not easy to live with. She got angry when her Sisters sang out of tune, and once she told a Cardinal that he made spiritual progress like a hen with its feet tied together.

Ignatius and Teresa are Teachers in my life, their influence ongoing. I value their prayerfulness and wisdom.

And the other three?

They are all Do-ers who have been determined in their efforts to minister to the poor.

Damien of Molokai gave his life to a colony of lepers in a remote Hawaiian Island.

Fr Damien had to go to extreme lengths to raise money for these outcasts. Robert Louis Stevenson lacked understanding when he called Fr Damien a liar and a fraud.

In that time and place, people did not give willingly to lepers.

This also was the determination of Mother Teresa in her care for the sick and dying in Calcutta.

Some people didn’t understand why she wanted to do this.

A Marist friend who heard Mother Teresa speak in Wellington was very impressed. He told her he was going to fly to Auckland to hear her again.

She said, “Go by train and give the money to the poor.”

The third Do-er is New Zealand’s own Suzanne Aubert who pushed a pram around Wellington streets to collect for the children in her care.

She showed the same determination.

Wellington businessmen often gave just to get rid of her.

So there they are the handful of Saints who are close to my heart and my conscience.

Two Teachers and three Do-ers, all ardent disciples of Jesus.

What is your group of Saints? How do they impact your life?

As far as mine are concerned, I know I will always need teaching.

But, please God, let me also be a Do-er.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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