Saints Among Us

By Dr. Linda Lee Ritzer

Part 30 of a series

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Do you know anyone who has received a call from God to live a holy life?

Every time I go to Mass, I see many such people.

It’s not only the priests, deacons and sisters. Every baptized Christian receives a call to holiness with the water of that sacrament. We have a call from God to holiness, no matter where we work or where we live.

I know ordinary people whose extraordinarily holy lives bless many other people. Let me introduce you to a few:

  • She can be found every Tuesday in the parish craft room, sewing lap blankets for nursing home residents. She doesn’t do this to pass time but precisely because she has taken to heart Jesus’ command to care for others.
  • He meets with the men’s fellowship group the last Saturday of every month to prepare and serve meals for a homeless shelter in Pittsburgh. He does it because Jesus said that whatsoever you do to the least of my neighbors, you do to me.
  • She is a wife and mother. Her kids are young and she has a job. Her mom is sick. No matter the day, every day, she visits her mom. It’s hard and she’s tired. But she finds a way. This is love. As Jesus commanded, she is not counting the cost.
  • He’s 17 and he’s still an altar server. It’s not because he has to. Everyone else his age has given it up, and he could, too. Serving at Mass is his way of staying close, keeping close to God. Something inside him just says it’s right.
  • They sing for Jesus. They practice every Wednesday. Many of the children are 8 or 9, others are 10 and 11, a few 14 or 15. Together, they are angelic. It’s not a concert, not a performance. Every week they are learning to lead in worship. Their music is their prayer.
  • Nobody knows his name. There is no praise, no glory, no recognition. He cuts the parish grass early every Saturday, before others know and before the weekend Masses. “I want everyone to feel proud of our church home,” he says. It’s his way of giving back.
  • She works at Giant Eagle and has for years. She belongs to the parish and serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. She’s nice to everyone, whether in church, in someone’s home or bagging groceries, even to those who are not so nice. Why? Because she believes that the Communion she distributes at Mass must be lived in the world, inside or outside of church.

All of these people are following God’s call, as surely as any priest, deacon, sister or monk. In their hands, a lawn mower, sewing needle or a shopping bag becomes holy.

The call to holiness is a call to implementation, to put into action the love of Christ. It’s done in simple and ordinary ways. But the simple and ordinary have the power to change our world. This is On Mission for The Church Alive! It is a call to act in the name of Jesus for others.

Ritzer is a diocesan associate general secretary.

Follow On Mission for The Church Alive on Twitter at @PghChurchAlive. Have something to share about how your parish is On Mission? Use the hashtags #ChurchAlive and #OnMissionPgh.

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