The Feast of All Saints: What's on Your Holy Card?

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You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.  Ephesians 2:19

This verse from St. Paul reminds me of the holy cards of my childhood: those slightly sappy images of saints with prayers on the backside. There are newer ones today, with better art, which are still attractive to young people. As they should be! A secular equivalent might be the sports trading cards. Why shouldn’t we celebrate our faith heroes? And what better time to do it than the feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls, Nov. 1-2?

We are all “fellow citizens with the holy one and members of the household of God.” We are all saints. That was Paul’s point. So, what’s on my holy card?

On the path to holiness? Here is a gift for you!

Most saints’ images include symbols associated with the saint’s life story. For St. Dominic it’s a star and a dog with a torch in its mouth. Catherine of Siena, who is a doctor of the church, is often shown with a book or with a ship, symbol of the church, on her shoulder. One of my personal favorites is St. Albert the Great who was a scientist and, reluctantly, a bishop. I’ve seen a statue of him holding a frog with his bishop’s miter tipped over on the ground under his heel.

Poor St. Peter of Verona, another Dominican and a martyr, is memorialized in the mosaic in our chapel with an ax to his head. Yikes!

Since all of us are called to sainthood, these feasts are a great time to think about how our personal path to holiness will be remembered after our death. Why not take some time to design your own holy card? Here are some questions to get you started.

Birthday—self-explanatory

Feast day—Saints have a day on the calendar when we remember them especially. Sometimes it is the day they were born, died, or experienced a significant event. What would be your feast day and why? I’d choose July 26, the date of my baptism.

Symbols—what tangible objects associated with your life story make sense to you at this point in your life? I think I’d choose a pair of swimming goggles and the ever-present steno notebook where all my inspirations are hatched.

Favorite scripture text—For me right now it’s “Seek the face of the God of Jacob,” from Psalm 24.

Moment of conversion—This is that critical moment when saints recognize the purpose of their existence, the moment when God’s call to holiness began to change them in significant ways. Some saints have dramatic conversions. For many others it is only in retrospect that God’s call becomes clear. My conversion is not yet complete! But if I had to say, I’d choose my first trip to Iraq in 2001. That was when my heart began to crack open with the suffering of God’s people everywhere.

How about you? Can you begin to write the story of your call to holiness today?



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