Lives of the saints are valuable not only for the virtue they reveal but also
for the less admirable qualities that also appear.
Holiness is a gift of God to us as human beings.
Life is a process.
We respond to God’s gift, but sometimes with a lot of zigzagging.
If Cyril had been more patient and diplomatic,
the Nestorian church might not have risen and maintained power so long.
But even saints must grow out of immaturity, narrowness, and selfishness.
It is because they—and we—do grow, that we are truly saints,
persons who live the life of God.
(icon of St Cyril of Alexandria)
I will readily admit that there are many folks out there who ardently dismiss the notion
of saints, sainthood and what all that sort of thinking entails…
With the dismissal of thought coming from both sides of the aisle…the aisle of
Believers and non-believers alike.
Non-believers just love hitting up Believers with arguments around the whole concept of
saints and sainthood…
As in who merits being let into the special club of sainthood and who doesn’t?
Who sets the determining standards and factors?
Who gets the right to say yay or nay?
Can you de-saint someone if you determine they were more screwup than up and up?
With the kicker remark being…” and so, these saints of yours, are they suppose to have
some sort of superpowers which makes them saint worthy?”
And if anyone really studies much history then the actions of many of these so-called
“saints” comes flying into question.
As in…was this person more rouge or saint or both?
We go through life hearing phrases about living a saintly or Godly life.
We hear stories of those selfless good deeds matched often with some sort of
There are even various denominations which are more prone to recognize the lives of saints…
those being mainly both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths…along with
Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Anglicans…
Denominations that have long been looked at sideways for this saint fascination of theirs.
Yet there are many a Protestant who will refer to Peter and Paul,
as well as a handful of others, as “Saints”
And remember… many a denomination recognizes All Saints Day on the Christian calendar.
But this isn’t a post about whether or not Saints are real or not.
Meaning the person may have been real, but should they be classified in a particular
category of Godliness?
It’s not a post about miracles or the lack thereof.
It’s not a post about virtue or perfection.
And it’s not a post about what is or what isn’t the proper Chrisitan doctrine regarding
this whole to be or not to be saint business.
Far from it.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are well known “saints” and not so well known saints.
There are saints who are recognized by both the Latin West (think Catholic) and Eastern Orthodox
faiths… while some saints are not recognized hardly at all.
There are even saints which all denominations will claim while others are claimed by
a mere handful.
All of which can make this saint business even more confusing for a Believer…and let’s
not even go over to the nonbelieving side as there is simply not enough time nor energy…
Suffice it in knowing that things can be fuzzy at best when trying to figure out
who is whom and what is what.
Yesterday I caught a posting on “the saint of the day” by the Felician Sisters CSSF blog
that gave me considerable pause to ponder…
Being a lover of history and always fascinated by those who blazed the various trails of
those scoundrels, scallywags, and glorified who each fought the good fight while
affording all of us more or less today the freedom to worship, or not, as we please…
I was most interested in learning about this early 4th century Patriarch of Alexandria
who was later known as “Saint and Doctor of the Chruch.”
However, we should note that it wasn’t until many centuries later that Cyril actually
made the cut in both the Latin West and Eastern branches of faith…
becoming recognized by the Chruch as a saint and Doctor of the faith in 1882.
I will confess that St Cyril of Alexandria, despite his deep roots in the early Church,
was not top on my radar.
And so it wasn’t so much his teachings, his biography, his fight against heresy or even his
rush to those knee-jerk responses to that said heresy of which has left some of his actions
somewhat questionable–actions and teachings best sorted out by historians…
rather it was what the Franciscan media noted in regard to Cyril and that of his slightly
off-putting and less than saintly ways, that made the greatest impression on my reading
of the day.
The idea that both Holiness is a gift from God and that life is a process.
And that it is our response to the gift, of which comes with a great deal of “zig-zagging,”
is what this is all really about.
Hindsight, time and clarity so often provides those of us more modern-day folks
with a better vision as to what once was…
But with that hindsight, time and clarity comes a certain level of smugness and arrogance.
A smugness and arrogance that falsely allows us to think we are better than,
smarter than and wiser than those who trod before us…and in that lies a danger.
A danger in thinking that we need no longer grow.
A false sense that we are above our own immaturity and flaws.
And in turn, we become narrow in our thinking.
May Cryil, along with the host of sinners now saints,
those who have all gone before us having seen the glory of both mercy and grace,
continue to teach us that God can take that which seems hopeless, broken and
lost and turn it all around…
as in a sinner to a saint…
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints.