All Saints is one of my favourite days of the year. The day we celebrate saints known and unknown.
Sometimes, it’s easy to recognize saints – y’all have heard me talk about Anthony (Patron of lost things), Raphael the Archangel (patron of the medical professions), St. Michael the Archangel (Patron of Soldiers, the Military, and hockey) and John (patron of friendships). I have a friend who pings me regularly “Saint for a stubborn child?” and I answer “St. Monica – Patron of mothers with strong willed children, and St. Joan of Arc for feisty daughters” “Saint for a mom who just needs some sleep?” and I answer “St. Peter Damian, patron of Insomniacs. Or St Raphael, patron of peaceful sleep”
But those examples all live in the pantheon of Catholic Saints. And I digress slightly, because really, the part I like best is the Saints Unknown. On All Saints’, I look at the good works that others do, and consider how I can be a better person. This is the origin story of both the Lent projects and the Advent project (that’s coming up quick on the calendar now) – how can I make the world a better place, one day, one deed, one breath at a time.
When Child was preparing for his Confirmation, almost a decade ago, his spiritual adviser was counselling the class on how to choose a sponsor. Someone who displayed traits of Catholic leadership, who had a good moral compass and was able to help guide the confirmation candidates to their spiritual maturity. He said something that surprised me – this wasn’t necessarily someone who went to mass every week, because sitting in a church wasn’t what made you a good person.
Surprised me is an understatement. That one statement rocked me back on my heels. And that’s the crux of it. Saints unknown.
And at the intersection of the Venn diagram of my Catholic life and my Military reflections, there’s an opportunity to consider the traits of the members of the military in particular who gave the best of themselves. The military doesn’t make you a saint unknown, but there are absolutely those in the armed forces who dig deep to find the conviction to make the world a better place. They fight back bullies. They fight the fights that need to be fought. They wear the brunt of people who confuse supporting war with supporting the armed forces. They cheer their brethren in the field, the parade square, and the classroom. And because of them, the world is a better place.
So today I offer the same reflection I always do on All Saints: All Saints is about recognizing the good example of others, being grateful for their role in your life, and using their example to create changes in your own life. This year may the best qualities of the members of the Canadian Armed Forces provide the example we can all model.
One year ago: Known and Unknown
Two years ago: Remembrance Project – Day 7: All Saint’s Day