Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's with all this Saint Business?

Okay. It’s time to write about something serious. I started this blog to keep me writing, and I need to write about life. Real life. Not just the glib and glab on the net that I find amusing or intriguing. The bloody guts of life. That good stuff that makes us cringe.
Last Sunday I was on a wild goose chase with my cousin, trying to find a graduation present for a recent graduate of the police academy. My cousin wanted to get the graduate a St. Michael medallion, something many cops wear. St. Michael is the patron saint of soldiers and policeman. On Saturday we bought a St. Christopher medal, and then found out it was the wrong saint. We must have gone into at least 50 stores on Sunday and we never did find St. Michael. All of this saint business is fairly new to me. All my life I’ve attended a non-denominational protestant church, where tradition isn’t largely emphasized. After the St Christopher mistake, I decided to look up what he did and why he was in every store we went to. Wikipedia has a cool saint portal where you can look at many of the major saints and their accomplishments and why they are the patrons of certain occupations.
I’ve been dealing with depression ebbing and flowing around me and in me since I was a teenager. Since my first occurance when I was 13, I’ve been interested in finding out more about it. Now, 10 almost 11 years down the road, more than ever I seem to be finding articles and blogs related to mental health. I don’t know if this actually helps me stay healthy or if it’s become something I’m over-indulging in and causing me to think about something more than I need to think of it. Whatever the reason, I do find some gratification in reading thoughts similar to my own, and I feel pleasure knowing there is a connectdness in our shared misery.
Maybe that’s why I feel connected to certain saints. Some seemed to have lived as hermits and I can definitely relate to that. Is there a place in this world for a hermit like Saint William Firmatus? Was there a place back then or were they just as much outcasts then as they would be now? Some Saints are said to have been able to bilocate, which is just outright weird to me and makes me wonder if that actually did happen and if it happened then, if it happens now.
Poor Saint Drogo found out that his mother died while giving birth to him and was riddled with guilt as a child. At eighteen he became a penitential pilgram, traveling all around Italy. Then he contracted some sort of terrible deformity that frightened anybody that saw him, so when he was 20 something a cell was built for him off the side of a church, and he lived there the rest of his life, without any human contact. 40 years, without any human contact! He only had a small window where his food and communion were delivered.
Blessed Christine of Stommeln was believed to have been crazy and she often fell into convulsions. She also had signs of Stigmata and seemed to have attempted suicide several times. I had always believed that saints were near perfect people, but after reading several short biographies of different saints, I now know that’s not true. Them seemed to be normal people with greatness thrust upon them. One, whose name escapes me right now, had to flee the city because her father wanted her as a replacement when her mother died. She and the local priest fled, and when the father caught up to them, he had them both decapitated. A church was built near where the incident to place and miracules healings are said to have taken place in that particular spot. She, then became a patron saint of mental illness.
The point to all of these stories? I have no idea. But, for some reason they bring me a bit of comfort on a stormy day. When I can’t sleep at 4 in the morning, it brings me a bit of peace to know these things:

1. That suffering in the world doesn’t change. It’s been there since the fall of man, and it will continue until the end of times. Different stories, same intense pain.

2. More importantly, I’m reminded that God doesn’t change. He was with the people of these stories, and he is with each believer now. If I feel like I’m having some existential breakdown, God has experience handling that. He knows the pain I’m going through and knows what needs to be done in my life. So whether I’m reading “Beyond Blue” or the history of Saint Joan of Arc, I’m reminded that I’m a part of something so grand, so beautiful that my mind can’t even comprehend it. I’m part of God’s Kingdom. And that is what I can find comfort in.

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