It’s getting down to the wire and I have to pick my saints.
I asked for suggestions for saints to bring along with me for the walk on the Camino. In my post titled “Camino minus 20 – Calling All Saints,” I listed my requirements for the saints who would accompany me. To recap:
- Male or Female
- Sense of humor
- Cheerfully face reality
- Be a writer or be written about
- Like to travel
- Able to pull own weight
- Superpowers (please see Camino minus 20 for explanation on this one)
- Ability to stay focused
- Keeps cool
- Available for life
Please go to Camino minus 20 for a better explanation on these requirements.
Unfortunately, it seems others are no more familiar with the saints than I am. We think of them as far away spirits who perhaps really existed, perhaps not, and are not relevant to our day-to-day lives.
But, that was my point. I wanted to try to make the saints, or at least one of them, relevant to me. Saints aren’t angels or spirits. They were real, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. We have photographs of them. We have books by them. We have interviews of them on television. They were real people.
At least, we know many of them were. Just as there are debates about who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, there are debates about who the saints of long ago really were. I’m OK with legendary, actually. I’m OK with a person having lived a heroic life, if only in my gullible imagination.
Babe Ruth’s real life was not exemplary. We admire him for what he accomplished. If he wasn’t really as great a person as my imagination tells me he was, so what? He can still be a legendary hero to me.
So why wouldn’t I do the same for the saints?
In the midst of the worst of the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandals, the New York Times writer, Nicholas Kristof, whom I admire greatly for his humanity and his writing, wrote a short editorial on the Church for that paper. In it, he reminded his readers of the grace and humanity of those who are walking the walk and talking the talk, day in and day out, unaffected by the turmoil around them. Their focus is clear. And their devotion and humility reminded me, as a Catholic, to not lose heart.
I have been researching for my companion saints and a few have made it to the short list.
- St. Christopher (although not for the reason you might think)
- St. Philip Neri
- St. Teresa of Avila
- St. Roch
I shall explain why I have short listed these four at another time. Maybe I’ll pick up a few more (doubtful, I don’t have much time left).
In closing, I’m serious when I put “sense of humor” up towards the top of the list of requirements:
An engineer died and reported to the Pearly Gates. An intern angel, filling in for St. Peter, checked his dossier and grimly said, “Ah, an engineer; you’re in the wrong place.”
So the engineer was cast down to hell. Pretty soon, dissatisfied with the level of comfort hell offered, he began designing improvements. Soon, the underworld had air-conditioning, flush toilets and escalators. The engineer was becoming a pretty popular guy among the demons.
One day, God called Satan and asked, ‘So, how’s it going down there in hell?”
Satan laughed and replied, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air-conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”
God’s face clouded over and he exploded, “What? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake; he should never have been there; send him up.”
Satan shook his head, “No way. I like having an engineer down here. I’ve never had one before.”
God was angry. “This isn’t the way things are supposed to work and you know it. Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”
Satan laughed uproariously, ‘And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?” *
*The Book of Catholic Jokes, Deacon Tom Sheridan, Acta Publications