Saints Among Us // Saint John XXIII

For all the saints who from their labors rest,who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name,Jesus,be forever blest.Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye, saw the bright crown descending from the sky, and seeing, grasped it, thee we glorify. Alleluia, Alleluia!

For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. Hebrews 6:10

Angelo Roncalli was a totally normal guy. His talents and shortcomings were similar to ones that you or I would have. He wasn’t wealthy, he wasn’t a renowned anything, and he was raised by a hardworking large Catholic family. He was a normal guy, who has found his way into Sainthood.

In 1907, he gave a lecture at a seminary in which he gave a description of what it means to be a saint. He said that we tend to make saints into larger than life, unreachable, untouchable, and just far off people. Someone like in a movie, rather than a coworker or a classmate. Saints, however, aren’t as much the perfect flawless person we often imagine. Rather, he said, they start out as humble sinners, ready for God’s love. It was this dying to self and trust in God’s divine plan that made this person into a saint.

His journals show a man who admired the saints greatly, but always felt inadequate in his own holiness. He felt like he wasn’t quite living up to his faith. He was a man of great humility, and he was surprised when he was chosen for the papacy. His “ordinariness” is part of what made him so remarkable. He was a kind and loving and beloved man, but he didn’t see himself in the same light that others saw him. He didn’t hold himself as high as others held him. His humility allowed him to accept God’s nudging in his life; allowing himself to be nudged into saintliness, even. Vatican II was for Saint John 23 a response to God’s nudge for reform and towards updating the church.  His most famous encyclicals were Mother & Teacher, and Peace on Earth. He enlarged the membership of the college of cardinals, and made it more international.

Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said,

“The Church has always opposed… errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

---with this teaching, he set a much more forgiving and less daunting or untouchable path to the church.

In his last dying months, he offered to negotiate peace between the Soviet Union and the United States, who were then in the Cold War. The offer was popular in both countries, but was declined. After this, he was the first pope to be honored as Time Magazine Man of the Year!  His body was found to be in an uncorrupted state, which is consistent with sainthood. On the 50th anniversary of his death, June 3, 2013, Pope Francis approved John 23 for canonization.

Let us remember Saint John 23, and live by his example. He was just a normal guy, like we are just normal gals, trying to make it to Heaven.

To Jesus through Mary-Mandi Fenn

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