November Faith Moment – by Father Sullivan

Some years ago, I was browsing in the Orange Park Mall. It was sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was busy. People were bustling around frantically trying to get their gift list completed. I was strolling along, enjoying the atmosphere – and that atmosphere was pretty cheerful. But, suddenly, it all changed! Three or four young men were involved in a scuffle. It was all so quick that I could not be sure who or what started it. Fists and missiles were flying, then a loud shattering noise as the front of a store was smashed. Bedlam broke loose, and people panicked and began to scream. The floor outside the store was littered with broken glass. The security people were on the scene immediately, and the police arrived in a matter of minutes. But the young men who had caused the damage had disappeared and melted into the crowds. The panic subsided, and things gradually got back to normal.

I passed back that way about an hour later. Two repairmen had arrived. They had swept up the broken glass; they had mounted their ladders and were carefully removing the jagged pieces of glass from the window frame, making sure not to cut themselves or let any glass fall on the people passing by. I stayed for a while and watched as they measured the frame and selected a pane to replace the broken one. They worked quietly and without any fuss. By then, most of the people passing by took no notice of them, and most of them, I am sure, did not even know of the earlier upset.

The next morning, I deliberately looked through the local news section of the paper for any reference to the incident.  There was a short paragraph with a headline that said something like: “Men smash store window, police investigating.”  There was not a single line in the piece about the two repairmen who had done such a great job in getting things back to normal. It got me thinking. We live in a world where the window breakers get all the attention, and the repairmen are frequently ignored!

We just celebrated the holiday of Halloween. You may not know that All Hallows Eve is where the name Halloween comes from. A hallowed person is another name for a saintly person. Oct 31st is All Hallows Eve because it is the eve of All Saints Day (Nov 1st). We honor all the saints, such as Peter, Paul, Augustine, James, John, Francis of Assisi, and many others, on that day. These are people who, because of their outstanding lives and heroic virtue, the Church has declared them to be in heaven and put them before us for our adoration. But there are millions of others there, too! There are people in heaven who are unknown, except to their immediate circle of family and friends, or maybe they are people who didn’t have any friends, but because of their dedication to God and for the lives they tried to live, now enjoy God’s presence in heaven. And if they are in heaven, they are saints! The canonized saints all have their feast day in the calendar. So, I like to think of Nov 1st as the day to honor the “little people”–the uncanonized saints, but saints nevertheless–the ordinary repairmen and women of our world.

You know, sometimes these little people can be more realistic models for us. What kind of an image does a saint have for most of us? We see pictures of people with their hands joined, eyes raised heavenwards and a shining halo around their heads. These scarcely inspire us (especially young people) to want to be like them! The ordinary, unknown people may be a more realistic model for us. God always seems to put around us people who can inspire and influence us. Think of some people you have known, maybe a grandparent or neighbor who has passed away–people who, in their humble way, have followed Christ and followed him to the end. I think of parents that I have known who have scrimped and saved and sacrificed and taken on extra jobs so that their children might have a good education. I think of parents who, day in and day out, care for a Down Syndrome child. I think of people who took care of a chronically ill parent. I think of people who have given their time and energy in the service of others, and then I think of people who are still with us–people I meet on a regular, even daily basis, whose lives are made up of great sacrifice and quiet heroism. Evil people leave a trail of darkness. Good people leave a trail of light behind them. Somebody once said: we are not called to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.

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