5 Reasons Why Studying the Saints Grows Our Faith

September 9, 2020

"Hear this! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.  And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.  And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”  He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Mark 4:3- 9


5 Reasons Why Studying the Teachings of the Saints Helps Grow Our Faith 

  1. Study puts down roots.  This is what Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower.  It is not about studying the saints as individuals.  It is about studying as they studied and applying that study to our spiritual lives.
  2. The saints produced a wonderful body of religious writings.  The saints have left a great legacy, going all the way back to the Apostles.  While we are not compelled to believe in the private revelation of the saints, their work (which includes inspired writing and the traditions of the early Church) is invaluable.
  3. The saints have given us some great, practical spiritual teachings.  Spiritual practices taught by the saints (like Lectio Divina, the Examen and Ignatian Discernment) can help us to get closer to and deepen our relationship with God.  
  4. The saints teach by example.  Whenever we start to lose faith on any level we need only look to the example of the saints to be reminded that people can indeed do great and wonderful things.
  5. The saints point to Jesus.  The saints do not replace or obscure Jesus Christ.  Instead their example and teachings point to Him and help us to see Him more clearly.  We don't pray to the saints either.  We pray to God.  Though it is perfectly okay to ask the saints to pray for us.  It's their pleasure, I think, to give us a hand up.
So those are the reasons.  I discuss them in a little more depth below.

But First Some Background

 

Twenty years ago or more, before I took a deep dive into the new age and occult, I was a practicing Catholi with full time career and a family to care for.  My life was hectic and often emotionally demanding.  And, for me, the Church was a refuge.

I loved to go Mass in the morning before I got caught up in another busy day.  Not because I felt like I had to, or thought it would please God but because I felt the spiritual power of the living presence of Jesus at Mass and in the Eucharist.  

For me, that part of being a Catholic was always real. I believed.  But it was not lack of belief that caused me to leave the Church.  It was anger.

Our family went through a lot in the nineties and I held God and the Church responsible.  This was unfair in ways I hope to better explain in my upcoming testimony (New Age To Catholic). But my point here is that the real reason I lost my way was that I didn't fully understand my Catholic faith.

Instead I knew bits and pieces.  I knew God existed but I didn't really know Him.  I knew Jesus died for me but I didn't really have a personal relationship.  

I knew the Catechism more or less but I didn't really know the reasoning behind the rules.  I knew who some of the saints were but I didn't know what they had actually written or taught.  

I knew some Bible stories and even a few passages but I never truly applied myself to the Bible.  Or anything.

I knew the standard prayers but I didn't say them.  At least not on my own time.  And I didn't spend any significant time talking to God either.

I mostly showed up.  Until showing up wasn't enough.

How Studying the Saints Helps Me


Fast forward to September 2020. 

I have had a rough couple of weeks.  Due in part to my past experience in the new age and occult, I deal a fair amount of spiritual warfare.  Concerns about COVID are keeping me from going to confession or attending Mass.

This takes a toll.  But the truth is, God allows spiritual warfare for a reason. And  there is something about overwhelm and discouragement and sleeplessness, that makes you take a hard look at your life - and everything in it. 

So I looked at was this blog and the time I put into it. I thought a lot about why I do it.

I left the Church was because I was one of those people who just didn't root.  I knew I was in the right place but I never dug in.  My house was full of holy pictures but my heart and my mind weren't really engaged.  Because I didn't make the effort I had no anchor - and when the storm came, I was swept away.

And that is something I will not risk again.

The Catholic Church offers us a wealth of spiritual resources.  All are designed to bring into closer communion with Jesus Christ.  And a lot of these resources have come to us, directly or indirectly, through the saints.

The New Testament has come to us through the inspired writings of early saints of the Church.  Our traditions have been shaped by those who came along a little bit later.  

The saints have left a great legacy.  Specific prayers, study materials and spiritual practices are their gifts.  For me, these things have been a lifeline.

Certainly, studying the saints isn't the only path to a deeper understanding of the faith and studying the saints in no way excludes the Catechism or Scripture or God.  But, for me, studying the saints and writing about what I learn here in this blog helps me anchor myself to the faith.

Ignatian Discernment Series Update


Next week I will be continuing with my series on Ignatian discernment. 

I know it's coming together slowly.  But I can't just read Father Gallagher's books and regurgitate them.  I have to put what I'm learning into play in my own life before I can write about it.  And the truth is that I kind of got stuck between Rule 4 and Rule 5. (More about that in my next post.)

If you've been following the series, I want to thank you for your patience and I want you to know that the both the series and this blog are ongoing.

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