From the Director

For many Australians, the start of November is all about the Melbourne Cup. The Cup is an important day in Australian life. It is a day to applaud peak performers: trainers, jockeys and of course the horses.

Besides the Melbourne Cup Day, early this month All Saints’ Day (1 November) was also important for Christians. All Saints’ Day is a day for Christians in Australia to remember and honour the saints. Saints in their own way, were ‘peak performers’ as well. In celebrating All Saints’ Day we reflect on what it is to be saintly and how we might measure up to the criteria of being saintly.

One person who measured up to the criteria was a young Jesuit Priest named Miguel Pro. It took courage for this young Jesuit to stay in Mexico in 1927 and set up an underground church during the Mexican Government’s persecution of Catholic people. Churches had been closed, public worship banned, many had been arrested and many had fled the country. Padre Pro stayed on, assumed a number of disguises and travelled throughout Mexico City, for more than a year, baptising, hearing confessions, administering the Last Rites to the dying, till on 17 November 1927, he was arrested. Four days later he was executed by firing squad with a crucifix in his hand and the words “Long live Christ the King” on his lips. Padre Pro was certainly a peak performer and showed great courage when he made his decision to stay in Mexico City.

The saints redefine life and death by placing both within the purposes of God and His creation.

His model, Jesus, showed great courage when He left his home in Nazareth, accepted Baptism from John and began the public life that would bring Him into conflict with both Jewish and Roman authorities and lead to His arrest, trial and execution.

At Pro's beatification in Mexico on 25 September 1988, St Pope John Paul II said:

Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death.

The lives of the saints down the ages question human priorities, particularly those that see death as necessarily defeat and staying alive as an end in itself. The saints redefine life and death by placing both within the purposes of God and His creation. We remember saints because they point us to Jesus, and inspire us to seek his spirit in our own lives and circumstances.

Probably, most of us think that saints are people who are especially good. Of course, they are; yet it is not because they love being good that has made them saints. Saints are those who have proved the power of the life of Christ within their own lives. They have achieved freedom from fear of loss or failure or death, because they live in the strength and hope of the life which Christ gives, the life of His Resurrection.

The life of Christ within us is God’s gift to us. In a sense, we are all saints called by Christ to redirect our self-oriented lives. We are asked, no matter what our status or occupation might be, to be Christ to the people in our particular world.

Within our lifetime we have had three saintly models: Padre Pro, Mother Teresa and St Pope John Paul II – all Peak Performers.

 

j-mula

Yours in Hope

John Mula
Director of Catholic Education