Column: Don’t be afraid if your faith is listing

by Father Mark Goldasich

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the other day I visited www.bustedhalo.com.

Billed as an “online magazine for spiritual seekers in their 20s and 30s,” I’m way beyond its intended audience. I was visiting this Web site because someone recommended that I check out a video there, entitled “The Saints on Halloween,” written and narrated by a Jesuit friend of mine, Father Jim Martin. The short video summarized not only how saints are made in the Catholic Church, but why they continue to be important. (The video is still posted on the site; use the search feature there to find it.)

The video was so delightful, in fact, that I gave Father Jim a call to tell him so. After chatting with him a while, I went to hunt down and dust off a copy of his book, “My Life With the Saints.” Its theme is blessedly simple: Father Jim introduces readers to some of the holy people who have been guides for his spiritual journey. He not only gives some biographical information on those special saints, but describes how and why they touched him.

For me, the mark of a great spiritual book is not that I read it word-for-word, cover to cover. What makes a book memorable is if it makes me think. And that’s exactly what Father Jim’s book did for me: It inspired me to set it aside (once more) and reflect on the saints who have influenced my own journey of faith.

So, who made my list?

Well, not surprisingly, St. Mark is at the top. I also have a special spot for St. Benedict, as I was ordained a priest on his feast day of July 11. And rounding out the “A list” is St. Francis, since I was taught and influenced in grade school by the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King; I’m attracted to his simple lifestyle; and his hometown of Assisi remains one of my favorite places in all the world to visit.

Being Croatian, I couldn’t forget Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the brothers who brought Christianity to the Slavs. I confess to feeling somewhat sorry for them, as well, as they have the misfortune of having their feast day on Feb. 14 and are forever overshadowed by someone named Valentine.

I frequently call upon St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists, for guidance and patience when working on The Leaven (and in writing these columns). And, being a moral theologian, I have a deep respect for St. Alphonsus Liguori and his very pastoral and compassionate approach to the moral issues that people wrestle with.

The most puzzling saint on my list is St. Roch, who has fascinated me since my grade school days. A small statue of Sveti Rok (as he’s known in Croatian) sits in a niche on the high altar at my home parish of St. John the Baptist in Kansas City, Kan. I’m sure that I once knew why this patron saint of those who suffer from the plague had such a place of honor there, but I’ve long since forgotten and continue to search for an answer.

Last, but not least, is Blessed Pope John XXIII, whose words opened my very first column here in July 1989: “See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” I continue to strive to live that ideal.

Who are the saints who have guided your journey of faith? During this month of November, spend time reacquainting yourself with these friends and learning more about them. May their prayers and inspiration lead each of us in our efforts to attain a halo, even if it’s a bit busted.

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