October 29, 2023 Essay: Saints in the Making

Oct 20, 2023

When I first introduced myself at the Wallace Hall Family Mass, I asked the congregation if any Canterbury School alumni, aka Saints, were in the crowd. I had just spent a year teaching theology at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, and thought perhaps I would discover a common connection. There was not a peep from the Mass-goers, and I pivoted, responding: well, it seems we’re all saints in the making.

This week is Halloween, the Solemnity of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. In medieval England, the festival, All Saints Day, was known as All Hallows, and its eve is still known as Halloween. The period from October 31st to November 2nd, All Souls Day, was known as Allhallowtide. Centuries later, we continue to celebrate, venerate, and pray, commemorating those who have passed just as our liturgical year ends. We pray to saints we know, to those we believe have entered eternal life, and for the souls that need our prayers. How glorious to participate with saints in the making.

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit …This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love. — C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (1942)

Seeing the faithful working among us against insurmountable odds is hopeful; both hope and charity were on display at the Courageous Women of Faith event on October 12th. On that evening, the following were honored: environmental activist Molly Burhans, human rights activist Sr. Jeannine Gramick, civil rights activist Diane Nash, and immigration advocate Sr. Norma Pimentel. Their incredible work was commemorated with the conferral of the Mary Magdalene Award to each honoree and the unveiling of large-scale banners of the women, created by artist Julie Lonneman.

Women’s Voices invites you to join us on November 16th at 6 PM in Wallace Hall for Discovering Women of Our Faith Tradition: The Scriptures and the Saints, Dinner and Dialogue with Dr. Teresa Berger, Ph.D., Professor of Liturgical Studies & Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at Yale University School of Divinity and Dr. Paul Lakeland, the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and founding director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. Please join us to be inspired by a discussion of the faithful and saints who came before us. Most importantly, seek those who are committed to God’s work and join them in the communion of Saints.

— Kate Noonan, Director, Interparish Religious Education Program