Make new friends, keep the old, one is silver, the other gold. We all desire to have friendships that will be meaningful and lasting. The only way to accomplish this is to have friendships centered on God.
Jesus Christ chose his closest Apostles and friends to climb Mount Tabor with him, Simon Peter, James and his brother John. There, he is transfigured to reveal his divinity to them to reinforce the meaning of his mission of saving love and divine truth.
Jesus Christ is then visited by his Old Testament friends: Moses, who received God’s Ten Commandments of life, love and freedom; and the prophet Elijah, who helped guide the Israelites in living God’s law of life and love, by defeating the false prophets.
As we grow in our friendship with the Lord Jesus, we should begin to grow in our devotion to his closest friends, the Saints. And since we live in Christ with them – who have been made perfect in Christ and by Christ, which brings glory to God – we can bring to them our hopes and fears, our joys and our sorrows.
Some people have difficulty understanding this friendship with the Saints, since they think that only God should occupy their minds. They might also have trouble with it because one way the Church has described this relationship is by naming it “Cult of the Saints.” Of course, the word “cult” comes from “cultivate” which is life giving, but people might think of the negative connotation of the word “cult” as in “secret cult” where people control others by breaking down their personalities and manipulating them with lies.
Some people think that we should only talk with Jesus since he is the crown and goal of our life in heaven. Yet, in the second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians we read how his friends in Christ bring him “joy” and that they are his “crown” whom he longs for.
St. Paul writes to the Christians in the Greek city of Philipi (the Philippians) that they should be: “imitators of me” and be eager to take up the cross so as to be glorified with Jesus Christ and his holy ones. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.”
My friends, we believe that Holy Mass is a participation in the Holy Mass in Heaven, and that all the Saints and Holy Angels are worshipping the Holy Trinity with us. Thus, we can and should call on our patron Saints to help us bring before God our hopes and fears, our venial sins to be eliminated and our desire to grow in virtue. We have the opportunity to pray for our family and friends, and to thank God especially in the quiet of our hearts after receiving him in the Eucharist. This is how we deepen our prayer life.
Another saint that learned how to pray deeply was St. Patrick. The Confession of St. Patrick is a book that tells of his spiritual growth. He wrote that he was not much of a Catholic Christian in his youth, but at age 16 he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of hard labor, and praying morning, noon and night, he is able to escape and returns to his home in Wales.
Yet, the Lord called him to go back to Ireland and bring the Gospel message to the Irish. He studied and was ordained a priest, and then was called to be a bishop and was sent to Ireland. Since he had learned the language and customs of the Irish during his captivity, his missionary work flourished.
At one point in his ministry St. Patrick climbed a mountain barefoot, and fasted 40 days and 40 nights for the conversion of the Irish people.
To this day many faithful climb Croagh Patrick, as the mountain is now called, in order to be transfigured by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the help of the intercession of Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John, and the other Saints whom we call our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe