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  • Wordle: From the Pews in the Back
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An Imperfect But Interesting Path To God

Years ago one of my uncles made a video in which he asked people whether my grandfather should be be considered for sainthood. The only person on the video who said that my grandfather shouldn’t be a saint was my father — my grandfather’s youngest child. It wasn’t that my father didn’t love his father, but I think my father wanted to remember his father in his own way, rather than have his father be an inspiration for all time. That project never progressed beyond the video, but it has led me to reflect on the difference between saints and souls this weekend.

Saints are difficult to love. For the most part, the meaning of saints’ lives has become intertwined with the statues that represent them — beautiful but cold to the touch. Although the saints were once alive, full of passions that made them wonderfully human, our collective memory of them has unfairly stripped them of their human behavior. Souls, on the other hand, are our family and friends, the person you know intimately and the person you’ve never met. As they were in life, in death we still think of them with foibles and idiosyncrasies. Their eternal state is a representation to the lives they lived — close to God but never quite reaching Him. However, death does not rob those that we pray for on All Souls’ Day of their very interesting qualities as it does with saints.

In today’s gospel reading we’re reminded that Jesus says “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me…” In that line is the core of faith — that no matter what wandering path we take, so long as we make our way to Jesus we will be accepted. No pulling, no guilt trip — faith is voluntary and unconditionally accepting on both sides.

The path to God might be less direct if you’re not a saint. On All Souls’ Day I pray for the souls who are not yet quite with God but had, I hope, an interesting journey wandering around seeing what life had to offer before departing this earth. I don’t know if my grandfather ever wanted to be a saint. I know I much prefer being a soul than a saint — flawed, imperfect, interesting but still in the end with God.

Sarah Albertini-Bond lives in Virginia Beach, VA, with her husband and is very sure that no matter what, she’ll never be considered for sainthood.

3 Responses

  1. Your piece reminded me very much of my mother, a woman who was, indeed, a soul.
    Soulful, she was no saint, and never pretended to be one. At the time of her death, at the age of 87, she remained, as you said, “… flawed, imperfect, interesting …”, but I would add, “still seeking His love, acceptance and approval, and praying each day in thanks”.
    I hope that I can remain true to that model, and that I also will be blessed to be, in the end, with God.

  2. “flawed, imperfect, interesting but still in the end with God” That’s beautifully well said.

  3. Very nicely done.

    The saints come alive (and we see how “…flawed, imperfect, interesting…” they are) when we study them, especially if they left a memoir. In particular, we see how they struggled with their own imperfections and that provides encouragement for all the rest of us, all those of us who are souls and not saints.

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