Monday, May 2, 2016
On celebrating saints' days
(I'm revisiting old posts - and sometimes updating them. This post was originally published in January, 2007.)
As a person who was raised as a (mostly) non-denominational Christian, the idea of observing saints' days was somewhat strange to me when I first encountered it. But what helped me understand this tradition was remembering St. Paul's injunction to "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." In the recognized saints, the church is saying, "Look at these people because they did a good job imitating Christ."
The thing is, it's sometimes hard to answer the question "what would Jesus do?" for the simple reason that you don't happen to be a first-century Jewish male in your thirties. (Letting alone the fact that you aren't the Messiah!) When we look at the saints, we are looking at a wide variety of people who have imitated Christ: priests, missionaries, businessmen, children, fathers, mothers, monks, nuns, even kings and queens! Some of them may be in circumstances a little bit more like your own, but even if most of them aren't, having all of these extra examples gives you a better idea of what following and imitating Christ looks like.
Now, you still imitate Christ primarily; the saints can't replace him in any way, shape, or form. But they're like older brothers and sisters who've been living with your parents' rules longer than you have, and can show you the ropes. You can look at them, and be encouraged, because they have proven that it's possible to follow Christ in every era, in every country, in every situation, no matter your age, race, or gender.
Peace of Christ to you,
P.S. If you want to learn more about celebrating the church year, my book "Let Us Keep the Feast" has a plethora of history, ideas, prayers, and more to help you do just that!
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