The 10,000 nonfiction stories we need to hear
They struggled with their anger, with their weight, with their spouses, with their mental health, with wayward children. They had abusive fathers and conniving mothers in law. They lost friends and family over their faith. They watched their businesses and ministries fall apart from the inside out. They watched their governments and their Church leaders fail them terribly. Many were chronically ill. They were refugees and monarchs, slaves and orphans, stay-at-home moms and working moms, farmers and popes. They were fabulously wealthy and shockingly poor. They were grumpy, illiterate, illegitimate. They came from happy, Godly families and from scarcely-believable brokenness. They were sanguines and melancholics and cholerics and phlegmatics and every combination of the Myers Briggs.
Catholic saints. There are ten thousand nonfiction stories out there that we Christians need so much.
Because every single one of us needs to know that we are a unique, irreplaceable, and unrepeatable soul.
Because every single one of us needs to know that we bring nothing new and nothing unredeemable to the table when it comes to sin and suffering.
Because every single one of us needs stories of real Christians who refused to talk to the snake and trusted God anyway.
And because there are some truths we can only learn and internalize through the power of Story.
I have had the Laudate app on my phone for many years, and through the Saint of the Day feature that is attached to the daily Mass Scripture readings, I’ve read short biographies of hundreds of the saints at this point.
Sure, there are a few too-good-to-be-true-sounding early saints whose real stories have been lost or embellished over the past 2,000 years. But most of the saint biographies I read are so human. And the fact that they’re true - that they actually happened - both points me to Heaven and helps me give myself permission to calm down about my own story.
God knew we would need stories—and heroes. He made us that way. Our human brains are made to love and learn from stories.
I think that’s why the Bible is so full of stories. Heck, that is why the Bible itself - the very story of salvation history - is the most important and powerful Story there is.
And I think that’s why the Church started honoring the stories of holy men and women right from the start, and why today it recognizes more than 10,000 saints (including many from the Bible).
I’ve jotted some of my favorite (and often lesser-known) modern saints down below. My list includes an Oklahoma farm boy, a videogame-loving Italian teenager, a freed African slave, an Irish alcoholic, a New York hairdresser, a brave Korean mother, and an Italian working mom.
The stories of saints have been a more important part of my spiritual journey than I think I can explain. I have a deep-in-my-bones kind of gratitude for them.
I hope when I meet some of my favorite Stories one day in Heaven - God-willing - I don’t go too fangirl on them. :)
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