Friday, February 14, 2003

Five Favorite Male Saints

Everyone else has been doing this, so I thought I would join. Here is my quick list of favorite saints, with a word or two about each.

5. St. Simeon Stylites, the original pillar saint. He lived on top of a six-foot wide pillar for most of his life, watching for the Lord. He was kicked out of a monastery for extreme ascetical practices, and so took the moderate step of pillar-living. He reminds me that what God wants is holiness, not necessarily sanity. That's good to know.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas. Need I say more? I like him for lots of reasons, but in particular for his view of philosophy and teaching. Yes, it is very good to contemplate higher truths, he says, but it is better to contemplate the highest things and then to pass the fruits of this contemplation on to others. After all, this is the life Christ chose. I also like his poetry quite a bit, especially in Latin: Tantum ergo sacramentum, veneremur cernui. Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui. . . .

3. St. Athanasius. He was the (almost) lone bulwark against the Arian heresy, and was exiled from his see numerous times. Yet, through his intelligence, charity, and perseverance, the true faith was preserved. Think of him whenever you say "God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father." By the way, the title of my blog is an homage to him and to Aquinas: they say of Athanasius that he was so isolated in his orthodoxy that it was almost Athanasius contra mundum, Athanasius against the world.

2. St. Thomas More. He is proof that there is at least one lawyer in heaven. A reluctant martyr, More is a model of integrity in politics. The line that I take from him is "Don't tell the king what he can do, but rather what he should do." Kings can do all sorts of things, but it is better not to let them know that. Tell them what they should do instead.

1. St. Joseph, the (foster) father of Christ. He is the model for Christian fatherhood: note how he gets out of the way and lets Mary and Jesus take center stage. That's the way it should be. Fathers are like offensive linemen, and shouldn't call too much attention to themselves, but ought to direct their energies towards the flourishing of the mother and children. Just like St. Joseph. (P.S. St. Josemaria Escriva points out that Jesus' habits of speech, and indeed all his habits likely come from St. Joseph. So if the Gospels don't tell you enough about this great saint's personality, look at Jesus, minus the divinity.

Note that the order and even the saints listed are subject to change at any time. This is my list today. Come back tomorrow and it might be different.

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