Mediator Dei 166-168

Then, as is true today, saints are important to us Catholic believers:

166. In the course of the liturgical year, besides the mysteries of Jesus Christ, the feasts of the saints are celebrated. Even though these feasts are of a lower and subordinate order, the Church always strives to put before the faithful examples of sanctity in order to move them to cultivate in themselves the virtues of the divine Redeemer.

Different saints have different attributes, of course. The Church reserves the duty of presenting examples of human life for us to imitate. These saints have special days in which we remember their faith witness with the support of liturgy, as well as devotion.

167. We should imitate the virtues of the saints just as they imitated Christ, for in their virtues there shines forth under different aspects the splendor of Jesus Christ. Among some of these saints the zeal of the apostolate stood out, in others courage prevailed even to the shedding of blood, constant vigilance marked others out as they kept watch for the divine Redeemer, while in others the virginal purity of soul was resplendent and their modesty revealed the beauty of Christian humility; there burned in all of them the fire of charity towards God and their neighbor. The sacred liturgy puts all these gems of sanctity before us so that we may consider them for our salvation, and “rejoicing at their merits, we may be inflamed by their example.”[Roman Missal, Collect for Third Mass of Several Martyrs outside Paschaltide] It is necessary, then, to practice “in simplicity innocence, in charity concord, in humility modesty, diligence in government, readiness in helping those who labor, mercy in serving the poor, in defending truth, constancy, in the strict maintenance of discipline justice, so that nothing may be wanting in us of the virtues which have been proposed for our imitation. These are the footprints left by the saints in their journey homeward, that guided by them we might follow them into glory.”[Saint Bede the Venerable, Hom. subd. 70 for Feast of All Saints] In order that we may be helped by our senses, also, the Church wishes that images of the saints be displayed in our churches, always, however, with the same intention “that we imitate the virtues of those whose images we venerate.”[Roman Missal, Collect for Mass of Saint John Damascene]

As our brothers and sisters, we ask holy women and men to put in that good word for us. We would do no less for one another, would we?

168. But there is another reason why the Christian people should honor the saints in heaven, namely, to implore their help and “that we be aided by the pleadings of those whose praise is our delight.”[Saint Bernard, Sermon 2 for Feast of All Saints] Hence, it is easy to understand why the sacred liturgy provides us with many different prayers to invoke the intercession of the saints.

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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