When you read the lives of the saints you often find that they come in groups. You’ll have multiple saints in the same family, like St. Edwin of Northumbria, his wife St. Ethelburga of Kent, and their daughter St. Enfleda of Whitby, who lived in 7th century England and worked to spread Christianity. There’s also St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Saints Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil of Caesarea, and Saints Benedict and Scholastica, who were brother and sister. Saints tend to come in groups because holiness attracts holiness. All of these saints, whether they were family or friends, tried to help each other to grow in holiness. They weren’t perfect, but they encouraged each other to persevere in the faith and held each other to higher standards.
Saints pray for one another. St. Monica spent years praying for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, who went on to become one of the greatest theologians in Church history. The legacy of St. Augustine is due in large part to the love and prayers of St. Monica. Do I pray for my family members and friends? Do I ask God to help them, to bring them to conversion, and to give them the grace they need to grow closer to God and persevere in the faith? I recommend praying a daily rosary and offering each decade for a different person or family.
Saints give one another prudent spiritual advice and not just worldly advice. St. Teresa of Avila recruited St. John of the Cross to help her in her mission to reform the Carmelite Order. This caused St. John of the Cross a lot of hardship and suffering, but it also helped him to become a saint. Do we try to help our friends to become saints? Not everyone can give spiritual direction but we can all encourage our family and friends to go to Church, to pray, and to seek to know and do God’s will in their lives, and encourage them to persevere when things get tough.
Most of all, saints let their actions speak for them. They give others a good example, like Saints Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, and Clare of Assisi, founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, when St. Clare followed St. Francis’ example of leaving everything behind to follow Christ in poverty and absolute faith. I’m no St. Francis or St. Clare, but am I trying to be a saint? Am I trying to live a holy life? Am I trying to get to heaven? When we live in joyful abandonment to God He will use us to attract others to do the same.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.