By Susan Ciancio
My father used to say that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. We could say the same thing about the saints we don’t know. While everyone who has made it to heaven is a saint, the Church has created a special place in our hearts for the people who have been canonized as saints—and there are over 10,000 of them. That’s a lot of potential friends.
The saints are important to us as Catholics for many reasons. Through their lives, we see beautiful examples of sinners who have transformed, as in the story of St. Francis of Assisi. We see mercy for others, as in the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta. We see the good works they did—often to the detriment of their own well-beings—as in the case of St. Damien of Molokai. And in every saint story, we see a love of Christ that knows no limits.
The good works these men and women performed throughout their lives to show their love of God and their love of their fellow human beings should cause us to fall to our knees in awe. From serving the poor and sick, to building monasteries and schools, to praying many hours a day, to walking countless miles to evangelize, these holy people truly lived the commandments, the beatitudes, and Church teaching. And they worked to help others do the same.
The more we examine their lives and our own, the more we come to realize that we too are called to become saints. Yet we know that living a virtuous life can be hard and can feel overwhelming. Living life on the path to sainthood takes effort, determination, faith, and hope. While saints may seem perfect, we know that they were not; they were sinners too. But if we are to follow in their footsteps and become saints, we must learn the lessons they learned and taught. That doesn’t mean that we never fail or that we never sin; it means that when we do, we get back up, apologize to God, and promise to do better.
It’s a tall order and one we cannot fill alone. We need help. That’s why we should strive every day to make friends with the saints. Not only should we make friends with them, but we should teach our children to do so as well, for when we give them the saints to emulate—rather than a sports figure or a Hollywood star—we give them someone who truly cares about their soul. And there’s no better friend than that!
Understanding all this is why the Culture of Life Studies Program created an Advent booklet specifically geared for families to read aloud. Entitled Awaiting the Gift of Christ: Walking with the Saints This Advent, this daily reflection guide uses the lives of the saints and words of wisdom from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to enrich your journey through Advent in just a handful of minutes every day.
Each entry offers a teaching from the Catechism, a story of a saint who lived that teaching, a short reflection, and concrete examples for what you can do as a family to live out that teaching. It’s a beautiful way to come together as a family and to strengthen your relationship with the God who loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you.
On the night that Christ was born, a star guided the Wise Men to Him. This Advent, we’re using the lives of the saints and the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to help guide you and your family to Christ.
Advent is an exciting time of preparation and anticipation. It’s a time to reflect on all the gifts God has given us, including the most important gift of all—Himself. Let us take time out of our busy schedules this Advent to honor the Lord who has done so much for us. Let us step back from the Christmas parties, the shopping, the baking, and the movies to focus on the one who truly matters. And let us live every day of our lives glorifying Him with all that we do so that we too can live for eternity as saints.
To download a copy of our Advent book, visit shop.all.org/collections/culture-of-life-studies-program/products/advent-reflections-2023-download.