In next two weeks, my family will be observing my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday as well as her 10th anniversary of her death. It’s an odd byplay of two events – her birth and her death – that both meet up at significant milestones for those who loved her.
Birthdays are usually times to celebrate the gifts received during the last year and to look forward to those coming in the next year.
But in the case of someone who has passed away, how should one deal with those anniversary days of birth – birthday – and death? Certainly, the feelings are mixed. Joy for the times you had with that person; sadness for the loss of that loved one in your life.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons & Feasts reminds us that “the story of every saint is the story of God’s grace and human cooperation, of God’s faithful love and the person’s often circuitous route to appreciating that love, of God’s constancy and human weakness.”
“Saints are identical in this: allowing God’s grace to bear fruit in their lives, in faith, hope and love, in works of compassion, in the witness of a life lived generously in praise of God.”
You won’t find St. Evelyn of Burlington, Vt., on any official list of saints or that any official hagiography of her has been done. But I believe she is just that – a saint, though one unrecognized, by those who did not know her.
Her life is like that of many of those souls who lived with a real sense of humility and not taking herself too seriously, a depth of faith, a heart full of love of her family, a compassion for those she encountered, a quiet wisdom and an appreciation and welcoming of those different than she. She taught me much about life, without realizing it because she would not have presumed that without a high school diploma to ever be in a position to teach.
I miss her. I ache, even a decade later. But I thank God for the joy and laughter that envelopes me when I think of her.
Who are saints you have known and encountered in your life?
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Photo top: Three popular female saints are represented in stained glass at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y. Depicted, from left, are Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. (CNS photo)