A few days ago we celebrated All Saints Day, and a few posts ago I wrote about saints. Like the light that shone within the tree across my street, so does the Light of Heaven, the True Light of God, shine inside each saint.
I had written that the saints are our models to show us just how to live in that Light. We’ll need good models if we expect to live in that perpetual, holy Light which is in Heaven.
So here’s a saint who died on November 3rd, a few centuries ago, but there are plenty of people who are born just like him in today’s world..
Born of a black woman, a former slave, and a white man – who were never married. Illegitimate. Half-breed (or do we call them “mixed race” today?) Father ran off for good when a second child was born. Poor and disrespected. Lived in abject poverty before there was any welfare state.
Went to work at 12 years old for the town barber. . . but learned the trade, both haircutting and bloodletting, two activities of the professional barber. He’d be able to support himself as he grew older.
But there was more to him than that. He had been taught the teachings of the Catholic Church, and believed in God. He sought out good company,and rejected the crime common to desperate people. By age fifteen he was helping the local Dominican missionaries. He worked with them among the poor, the poorest of the poor, and among the sick, the sick and the dying.
But there was more to him than that. He was not a glorified social worker.
He turned his thoughts to God and to God’s greatness and glory and holiness, and worshiped and adored. He prayed often throughout the day. God’s majesty was always in his thoughts, and he lived in true humility before God and in service to other people. This is what a saint chooses to do; this is how a saint chooses to live. These are choices we all can make.
For the sake of God he continued to use his talents to serve the poor and the sick all around him, both from the city and in the Dominican residence where he lived. He became known for his skill with the sick and also for his personal kindness and holiness. People sought him out and found wisdom in his words.
His name is St. Martin de Porres.
The Light of God was within him and he nurtured his faith and the Light grew.
It is said that at times people could see him surrounded by a light. He is said to be able to appear where he was needed, even through doors that were thought to be locked, even when he was thought to be elsewhere at the time.
He need not have become a great saint. He started off with much less than most of us have; he came from a broken home and he endured the ridicule and insults from his own society because of his mixed race. And yet, we have the same choices to make as he did, and we have the same opportunity to become great saints.
God is good. November is good! It’s the month set aside to remember all those saints and all those believers who came before us. It is a great communion of friendship. That Light of God is ready to grow within each of us.