The Presence of the Saints

Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order, writes in his Rule:

When the novice is to be received, he comes before the whole community in the oratory and promises stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. This is done in the presence of God and his saints … He states his promise in a document drawn up in the name of the saints whose relics are there, and of the abbot, who is present. (RB 58:17-19).

At the important moment of their vows, the monks are reminded of the presence of the Saints. The Church believes for some people with certainty that they are with God. They have risen to a life eternal, which means they are with God in unending light, joy, and community. In the Catholic Church we have the custom to invoke the Saints on certain occasions. For some this seems to be superstition. However, when you try to do it, you might be surprised that it “works”. St. Anthony has helped me a lot. He is the Saint you call when you have lost things. I often lose things. When I call him, I calm down. I trust that I will find what I have lost, and he has never disappointed me. One may argue this is self-suggestion – and if so, why not? There are other Saints you can call. Saint Christopher helps the travelers. Recently I heard about St. Leonard who helps to find a parking space. Yes, it made me smile. It is a playful way in which we recall the presence of the Saints. Who are your favorite Saints?

If the Saints are with God, then they can be present to me, too. We are a large community that encompasses heaven and earth. The saints are companions and friends; they encourage us. They help us to become open for God. This is why we celebrate their memorials and feasts. Their relics are kept, not because the bones are an idol for us, but because they stand for the real presence of the saints. Why does the presence of God not suffice? It does, but God loves the human beings, his creation, and he wants to have them close to himself always. This is why St. Benedict talks about “the presence of God and the saints.”

Dear God, you have surrounded yourself with a cloud of saints, a holy community. And so am I surrounded by them and never left alone. I am part of a larger community. Let me be connected with them. Let the awareness of their presence be part of my awareness for you.

Capetown 119
Giovanni Bellini (1490): John the Baptist, Christ, Mary, Elisabeth

6 thoughts on “The Presence of the Saints

  1. I love your your insightful presentation and perspective on the topic of Saints. When I attended the ordination of permanent deacons last Saturday morning, we sang the Litany of Saints while the men lay prone on the floor. As we invoked the saints, the overflowing grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit touched the core of my being, as it did when my own husband was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2005. Yes, the presence of the Saints with us and among us brings us to a greater awareness of God’s presence with us always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fr. Mauritius – I have recently had the opportunity to spend a concentrated bit of time (hours) in the Holy Rule. And it is so good to find your blog with an explanation, such as above. It is good to contemplate the community of Saints who are always with us. Thank you.

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  3. I suppose my “favorite” saints are the ones each of my family have chosen to be their patron saints and I ask them to intercede for each of us often. It’s a beautiful gift to a mother to know there is a Saint, chosen by her child that is praying specifically for her child. I’ve been reading more lately of the lives of the Saints and they just became alive and “more real” to me. St. Therese and St John of the Cross just recently. The Communion of Saints is a gift indeed.

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  4. We have a ‘St.Anthony-Chapel’ in our Bavarian village. St.Anthony is an important Saint here. Obviously he has already helped a lot finding lost items. People put money into the offering box as thanksgiving. When I moved here 20 years ago, I remember the strange feeling that this must be a Bavarian Saint :), because people’s faith in him was so fierce.
    Personally, I like the story of St.Margaret. She was imprisoned and tortured for confessing to Christ. At night a dreadful dragon tried to pounce on her. She defeated it by making the sign of the cross over it. Saint Margaret is portrayed with a dragon on a leash or even riding it. She didn’t kill it, but she defeated and tamed it. How strong and deep is this picture!
    (Are you thinking of ‘Avatar’, too? It’s just a movie, but with such a strong scriptural symbol.)
    Just one more thing: I never thought of calling on St.Margaret ….

    Liked by 1 person

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