On the Communion of Saints

24 06 2009

juan soldado altar

image credit: Juan Soldado altar in Tijuana, Mexico

A good article from Inside Catholic. Here are some highlights:

The convert sometimes finds that he’s not completely comfortable with how Catholic the Catholic life actually is. He may come to the Church with all the slobbering, tail-wagging enthusiasm of a hungry beagle hearing table scraps hit his supper dish, but he can suddenly turn into an overfed cat when he finds out what’s in that supper dish.

It’s all too much. To be able to talk to the Mother of God, or to St. Joseph, or to the great martyrs of the early Church, or a favorite medieval theologian — that’s great. It’s simple and straightforward… But then it begins to get complicated, with the multiplication of people with whom you have a real connection. And worse, this group includes people you’ve known well. It can include people you’ve seen in embarrassing situations or whose sins you’ve witnessed. You’re a private saluting . . . other privates. At least it feels that way.

That, in my experience, is where the convert tends to balk. It just doesn’t feel right. Even after eight years as a Catholic, when someone I know says, “I was praying to X,” naming someone we’d both known, I still want to respond, “What, are you nuts? X?”

And of course, since this is my blog, I will include my own comment here:

I’m so Catholic …I pray to saints even the Pope doesn’t recognize. When we went to the cemetery as children, we used to visit the graves of my brother and sister who died a few days after birth. Because they had been baptized, my mother said they were angels (not true, but a common belief in Mexico… heck, close enough). It was kind of cool having a brother and sister who were angels.

In Latin America, it is hard not to think at times that the graves are shrines and not places of mourning. Maybe it’s “Catholic ancestor worship”, but people feel that they are helped from beyond the grave by even the suffering souls in Purgatory (there are holy cards for the “Anima Sola”, and people can seach my site for an English translation of the prayer.) Down there people have all sorts of “Catholic spiritual helpers”, some good, some bad, some not so clear: Sarita Colonia, Juan Soldado, La Milagrosa, Gauchito Gil, Pedro Jaramillo, etc.

All canonization does is say that a public cult can be celebrated for a person, and indeed it should. But I am beginning to think that, scratch the surface a bit, and PRIVATE cults are just as necessary. I pray to my deceased grandmother and some of her “folk saints”. I knew one blind woman who was a pillar of the Legion of Mary in my town who I consider a saint. Saints from long ago, reigning in glory both in Heaven and in the hearts of all the faithful, serve as an example of emulation and intercession that tie us into the mystery of the Universal Church through the ages (the Virgin, St. Jude, St. Michael, St. Joseph), but those “uncanonized” saints make it all real and tangible in the here and now. Both are very much needed, and both should be propagated both from the pulpit and in the Catholic home.

The Death of Amédé Ardoin

24 06 2009