Joyce Rupp is one of my favorite spiritual authors; several of her books line my shelves. In her book Out of the Ordinary, she writes beautiful reflections about the seasons, from spring and summer to Advent and Lent. One exercise spoke to me this past November: A Personal Ritual for All Saints Day.
Sister Joyce describes it like this:
-Have near you a small container, such as a cup, bowl, basket, or small box, and at least 30 small pieces of paper. An index card cut into fours is a good size.
-Ask for divine guidance as you ponder saints who have drawn you to deeper faith, to a closer union with God. These might be people you have known personally, through scripture or history; they might be spiritual and theological authors, poets, or singers – anyone who has inspired you and stirred your desire to be faithful to the Christ-like goodness within you.
-As persons and names come to mind, take the small pieces of paper and write a name on each one. Place these names in the container.
-Keep the container of names any place where you will see them. Each day of November draw out one name. Remember the person whom the name signifies. Ask yourself: what does this person’s life teach me about the goodness of God and about how to live my life well? Write this quality on the back of the paper. After you have recognized this quality, place the name alongside the container.
-Each day, try to live the quality of the saint whose name and life you pondered.
This was such a fruitful exercise, one that surprised me in many ways. Names of canonized saints made my list, like St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, St John the Evangelist, St Paul. One surprise, though, was that the majority of my saints are people I’ve known (or still know) who have touched my life in profound ways. Like my mom. Or particular people who have been instruments of conversion for me. Or people who have been important in my life, who have died, like my dad, my Grandma Engle and Bill’s Grandma Rosie. Or individual, living witnesses with whom I interact regularly.
In doing this exercise, I found that the majority of my saints have, in some way, breathed the same air and walked the same path as me. There is much to be mined from this for me. I look forward to exploring this here.