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November's Chaplain's Reflections

  • Published
  • By Capt. Samuel Gray
  • 169th Fighter Wing

Hello Swamp Fox family! I hope and pray that y’all are doing well as we gather together this November. Halloween has just past but there is another day that is often overlooked and would be good to think about.

For Christians, November 1 is All Saints day. It is a day when we think about all the men and women who are in Heaven. They are what we call saints.

When we think of “Saints” we might think of men and women who are so holy that we could never join them. But we can! This feast of All Souls says to us: dare to be more, aim high!

Dare to be a saint.

Some of us may hear that and laugh. Sainthood is a noble ambition, an ideal, but is this something we can realistically expect to attain? The short answer is: yes.

Because the great truth about saints, something we so easily forget, is that they were just like us. They were men and women who lived their lives loving their God and who did good deeds for those around them. They had flesh and blood, strength and weakness. They were people of appetites and longings, ambitions and disappointments, vanities and eccentricities. When they fell short of the tenants of their faith, they got back up and kept trying. They were simple sinners just like you and me.

They were normal people living normal lives but who strove to excel in their belief that Heaven wasn’t further than a kind word, a listening ear, a good deed. They are often the filthy, the rejected, the outcast, the homeless, the forgotten. People like Benedict Joseph Labre who grew up the son of a prosperous shopkeeper, but felt called to give up everything and follow Christ. He spent his life doing good deeds and wandering from church to church in Rome. He rarely bathed, never washed his clothes. Some people were repelled by him. But the purity of his devotion and his love of God moved and inspired those who saw him day after day. When he died at the young age of 35, priests of Rome preserved his filthy clothes as relics and they buried him in one of the churches he loved. Today, he is the patron saint of the homeless.

Mother Teresa is another example of a woman who loved others well. She was a little nun of even littler importance sent to the middle of nowhere in India. It was there that she cared for the sick and the dying, the helpless and hopeless. She said that it was not necessary to do great deeds in order to be a saint but rather to do small deeds with great love. She did many small deeds all with great love and in the process, changed thousands of lives!

Loving one another; respecting one another in our differences; caring for one another in our needs is the path to sainthood with all the saints in heaven.

Don’t dismiss any of the saints. They are closer to us than we may realize. They have struggled with sin and temptation, they’ve walked the journey toward holiness, sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling, but always getting back up and moving on, resolving to do better, to be better, to aim higher. The Chaplain Corp exists to help you do just that. Be a saint to those around you. If you do, I am sure you will find that Heaven is not so far away out of your grasp.