Not Scared Off By the Frights of This World!

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For some reason, humans like to be scared – we don creepy masks to freak out friends, pay inordinate amounts to watch thrilling films (and that’s not even counting the cost of the popcorn – to hide behind, of course!), and consume frightening amounts of sugar right around one All Hallow’s Eve – October 31st. But what does it mean to be “hallowed”? Holy. Saintly. In short, someone who may get frightened, but deals with it in unbelievably godly ways. Those are the people we honor the very next day – tomorrow, in fact, on All Saints’ Day.

Extraordinary heroism takes the kind of courage which tackles the scariness of this world head-on, leaving not confusion or pride, but goodness and beauty in its wake. The most amazing recognized earthly heroes and heroines of all are those people who have been named saints and blesseds – they weren’t people who were necessarily looking for glory, but they’ve found it in Heaven, in the companionship of the Almighty God. And they’re definitely not all alike. In fact, the more you learn about these holy people and their stories, the more you realize that God, in his infinite wisdom and power, cannot be pigeon-holed. These are people who defy stereotypes, because they have each lived earthly lives that cross economics, ethnicities, racial groups, and generations, and yet they are united in the one thing that, in the end, really matters – a burning love for God that sets them apart as not only awesome, but worthy of example and set forth by the Church.

Each saint or blessed’s story is unique and beautiful, but those who lived the Faith as teenagers and young adults demonstrate a youthful grit that should make people of all ages stop and take notice. Like Paul’s admonition to Timothy not to let any anyone “despise your youth” (I Tim 4:12-16), “but set the believers an example in speech and conduct,” adolescent saints and blesseds’ stories, some full of true danger and peril that would be frightening in any time period, for a person of any age, have something to share with us all.

Whether Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, a teenage girl who never ceased to praise the glories of God and serve her friends and family members, even when wracked with pain from the bone cancer that eventually took her life, or Saint Luigi Gonzaga, a young man who gave up wealth and worldly influence to take on the life of a Jesuit, and later put himself in jeopardy in order to care for those stricken with plague, the Church will spend tomorrow feasting in remembrance of the saints’ rare and outstanding contributions. May we emulate these holy ones, taking on their varied and valorous love of Christ in our own lives and seeking their intercession for the salvation of the whole world.

On this Eve of All Saints’ Day, here are a couple of ideas you might want to try and incorporate:

-  All Hallows’ Eve is a day when we tend to reflect on things that frighten us, namely the evil present in the world. If you usually carve a pumpkin or two, why not also remind those passing by of the hope that is Holiness. Welcome in All Saints’ Day with a Christian symbol – many of those used from the early Church to today are very simple, such as the ichthus (fish) or the cross, making them ideal for some good, old-fashioned gourd carving. For the last couple of years, we have carved a pumpkin inscribed with “Sanctus,” placing it on the porch with an assortment of candle holders depicting saints special to various family members.

-  Check out two of my books from Liguori Publications – Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints and Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints, available from Sacred Heart Radio, at your local Catholic bookstore, or anywhere Catholic books are sold.

Editor’s Note: During the month of November, as we celebrate the final days of the Year of Faith, we’d like to feature stories from YOU about the blessings and fruits you’ve experienced during this year.  How did you celebrate?  What did you do to grow in faith? How did your relationship with Christ and His Church deepen?
Send us your stories and reflections to along with your contact information, and your reflection could be featured here on the blog in November!
Submissions should be under 500 words; deadline for submissions is October 31st.

Colleen Swaim

About Colleen Swaim

Colleen Swaim lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband Matt and their toddler son. She is the best-selling author of Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Liguori, 2012) and Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints (Liguori, 2010), in addition to having co-authored Your College Faith (Liguori, 2014). A graduate of The Catholic University of America, she teaches at the Diocese of Covington's Latin School.