Once again we find ourselves approaching the final weeks of another liturgical year. Two things will characterize these weeks as they do every year. First, the readings for the liturgy will take on a more apocalyptic tone. Second, we will spend more time considering those who have gone before us in this journey of faith, both those who have been parts of our lives as well as those who are now recognized as models of holiness.
In considering the "saints," I am always aware of two particular attitudes that seem to characterize the lives of these men and women who have been recognized by the Church as examples of holiness. First, it seems to me that every saint has come to embrace the virtue or perspective of gratitude. Saints recognize that God has blessed them with many good gifts.
Perhaps even more characteristic is the fact that the holiest among us see themselves as sinners, sometimes even as the most abject of sinners. They recognize their flaws, their imperfections, their failures. I was reminded of this as I read the passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans today. He spends a bit of time chastising those in the community who criticize the others without recognizing that they are guilty themselves. Perhaps it is because of the fact that the media is charged these days with so many hurling charges and insults toward members of the opposite political party, but this admonition struck me quite powerfully today. Instead of chastening others for their faults, St. Paul warns that we need to pay attention to our own deficiencies. There are plenty to go around.
One of the things that I particularly like about CUSA (and have always appreciated since I first joined over thirty years ago) is the fact that CUSANS spend their time encouraging one another and praising one another's efforts. Each CUSAN is dealing with some particular chronic situation or some disability. However, rather than dwell on "my" cross, CUSANS are usually people who are concerned about the "crosses" their fellow members carry. This concern for each other is a wonderful sign of God's grace working among us. While we recognize that none of us is whole, we are still able to express our concern and our support for each other. Would that this attitude would be more universal, especially in this time of civil discord!