I was forty-three when I was baptized. I knew a lot about the saints before I entered the Church but never could have imagined how I would be transformed by knowing them intimately. St. Teresa of Avila is my patron saint, but a few months after my baptism I was surprised by a devotion to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. When I mentioned this to a nun, she said that if you find yourself attracted to a saint, you can be sure that saint is praying for you. I’ve remembered her words with comfort as my personal litany of saints has grown.
The intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita allowed me to forgive a long-festering wound. St. Catherine of Siena guided me to a spiritual director. St. Bridget of Kildare softened the hardness of my heart when I resisted being charitable. St. Joseph saw me through two long periods of unemployment. St. Martin of Tours gave me courage in a challenging time.
I could go on, as I’m sure you could, especially today when we honor not only the canonized but all saints—those whose names are known to history and the hidden saints the world never knew. Your beloved grandmother. The radiant woman who sat behind you at Mass. The faithful priest who baptized you and buried your parents. The physician who died of COVID.
I am continually astonished by the generosity of the saints. But I think I know their secret. In allowing themselves to be emptied, they became vessels to channel the overwhelming, prodigal love of God. They became empty but their histories and personalities remained intact—like us, shaped by the times in which they lived, formed in the crucible of sorrow but radiant because they trusted in the promise that their reward would be great in heaven.
How blessed we are that this same way to holiness is open to us all.