All Saints Day at St Paul's or anywhere

If you were stuck in St Paul's Cathedral, London, today (All Saints Day) and could choose a saint to be with you there, who would you choose? There are some I wouldn't want, like St Simon Stylites who sat for years on top of a pole saying nothing. I’d prefer St John the Baptist who might find locusts and wild honey to eat. On the other hand what he had to say could be too uncomfortable. 

In St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul would be the obvious (but not comfortable) choice. I like the way Paul used the word 'saints' to mean something very different from unusually special people who end up with a halo in a stained glass window. Whenever St Paul wrote to a church he wrote "to the saints...", all the Christians in that place. His letter to the Romans begins, "To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints...". It's a calling most of we Christians don't live up to at all well. We "called-to-be-saints" are saints-in-the-making, ordinary fallible people who make mistakes. We're not perfected saints in heaven. Well you knew that didn't you? 

Do you know the story of the boy whose teacher asked him, "what is a saint?" He'd recently been taken to visit a cathedral with magnificent stained-glass windows with pictures of saints. He thought for a moment, then said, "a saint is someone the light shines through".

How well the light shines through a window depends on the properties of the glass, how well it's crafted to let the light pass through and how clean it is. But, as long as the light is bright enough some rays get through even the dullest rough glass. However much daylight reaches the inside of a church through its windows, it's always brighter if you step outside.

St Francis of Assisi is said to have taught his monks that even should they be entranced by a vision of heaven, if a tramp knocked on the door and asked for water then turning to help the tramp would be the real heavenly vision. Turning away from the tramp would be to turn away from God's face. Peter Kreeft points out that the real saint is the one who sees who the tramp is: Jesus.


  1. An absolutely wonderful post with deep meaning.

  2. You are too kind Chelliah, but am grateful for your comment and that you found deep meaning in this post.

  3. I would choose Teresa of Avila, because she was both a mystic and a very practical and efficient woman, who got things done. People who are mystics as well as doers=my heroes!

  4. Anita, I think Teresa of Avila would be both inspiring and challenging. Well, that is how I react to what I've read of her writings.


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