During today’s All Saints Day Mass, Father Gerry spoke of the many holy individuals who are members of the heavenly host but reminded us of the far greater number whose names we do not know, that is, the saints with a small ‘s’. Father told us, “They are known to God alone.”
Confidentially, I’ve always felt sorry for these unnamed high achievers. Magnificat magazine’s “Saints of Today and Yesterday” biographies detail the strong faith and good deeds of the top-billed men and women du jour, but lump the others in their party into the anonymous “companions” category. These faithful individuals who lived exemplary lives are stuck in oblivion; it’s the saintly equivalent of being one of “the Four Seasons” under Frankie Valli or “the Supremes” under Diana Ross. They stand in the background, dressed like the marquee name but with fewer sequins, and add to the harmony but cannot let their unique glory shine.
As I stood at the cantor podium and led the congregation in singing “For All the Saints”, the afternoon sun shining through the church’s stained glass windows cast a reddish glow upon my hymnal. I looked up to see the depiction of the angel Gabriel’s visitation to Mary…. then I realized the faith-filled young woman was showing me the road to sainthood. Without thought of herself, nor with aspirations to greatness, Mary took on the mantle of motherhood to God’s son and became the greatest woman since the world began. Her humble “yes” gave the rest of us a beacon to follow, an example we can only hope to imitate.
Perhaps none of us will ever achieve the level of Saint with a capital S, but that’s of no consequence. Mary showed us that doing our very best with the talents we have received is enough to approach His throne and achieve sainthood-with-a-small-s. If we remember the angel Gabriel’s statement that “nothing is impossible for God”, we needn’t worry about top billing. Being a saintly version of a Supreme, an anonymous back-up singer in David’s heavenly choir, can be reward enough.