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Celebrate the Saints!

all saints day


Growing up the only saints I knew of were St. Francis, St. Joseph, and Mary the Mother of God. That’s not to say I had a relationship with any of them, I just knew who they were and could identify them on a holy card. I had absolutely no idea that saints could intercede for us, that their example could help us on our faith journey, and that their friendship could lead us closer to the Lord. 

But all of that changed in college. My junior year I found my way to the Catholic student center at my small, liberal arts school. The people there spoke of Therese of Lisieux as if she was a dear friend who was constantly popping in for a visit. They discussed Peter, Paul, and the Blessed Mother like they were still alive and very much active in their daily lives. I was bewildered but intrigued and wanting what they had, I reached out to the one saint who had always interested me: Joan of Arc. 

As I studied her life and reflected on how her love of Christ enabled her to do such extraordinary things, I found myself asking for her intercession and also talking to God about her life and mine. Slowly, I was becoming friends with a saint and it changed everything. 

 Joan was the saint who brought me into the party and introduced me to everyone else in the room. Padre Pio, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Kateri Tekawitha, Maxamilian Kolbe, Gianna Molla - suddenly I was surrounded by the most interesting people with a variety of personalities, backgrounds, and gifts.  As I learned about them they continued to bring me closer to God, each showing me a different part of His love, creativity, and goodness - and often introducing me to even more saints!

With each new baby, my husband and I also added one or two more saints to our family litany, a litany we pray every morning on the way to school. Saints, Blesseds, Venerables, Servants of God - our children have all been placed under the patronage of a variety of holy men and women. Travis and I count on their prayers for our children. St. Anne, St. Benedict, Venerable Sheen, Mother Teresa, St. Peter, Servant of God Emil Kapaun, St. Joan, St. Stephen,  plus many more intercede for us, for them. Every time we speak our kids’ names we are invoking the saints for whom they are named, and so these men and women have a strong presence in our home and in our daily lives. Their feast days are celebrated and their lives are used to illustrate what virtue and love of God look like. 

Today I know and understand what I didn’t in my youth: the saints are alive! They are actively praying for us and leading us closer to our Lord. They love us because they love God first. Heaven is rich with saints who are spending their eternal life in the presence of the King and on  November 1st the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints Day. What a beautiful opportunity to thank God for His saints - for how diverse and numerous they are - and to rejoice in holy friendships. 

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She is a regular contributor at Blessed Is She and a frequent radio and podcast guest. Her best-selling book, 61 Minutes to a Miracle: Fulton Sheen and a True Story of the Impossible, tells the story of her son's miracle which was approved by the Vatican for the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen. Bonnie lives with her husband and eight children in Illinois.