Halloween, All Souls, Purgatory, and the Communion of Saints

“I see dead people!” Remember that famous line from the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense, in which a boy, played by Haley Joel Osment, reveals to the character played by Bruce Willis that he sees dead people? For many years now, I’ve been facetiously telling people that, if you see or talk to dead people, you’re not crazy, you’re Catholic! An important part of our belief system—our Catholic vision of reality or our cosmology—is our belief in […]

There’s a Saint for That

Remember when the iPhone started appearing all over TV with its catch phrase, “There’s an app for that?” No matter the question, the iPhone had an app to answer it. In a similar vein, we Catholics are lucky because, no matter what our need or failure, worry or struggle, there’s a saint for that. And we don’t need an expensive device to get in touch with a heavenly mentor and friend; we can visit a […]

Friends, Not Statues: Three Ways to Teach About the Saints

There are many ways we can teach about the saints. We can ask young people to write a report about their favorite saints. We can have the class choose a patron saint. We can include facts about saints in our weekly lessons. But when I think about the way I talk about my friends, I don’t talk about them as if they were a collection of facts from a Wikipedia page. I don’t say what […]

Four Ways to Teach About the Saints

I once had a student ask why we spent so much time talking about the saints; did he not attend faith formation classes to learn about Jesus? I told him that this is precisely why we learned about the saints: “our communion with the saints joins us to Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 957). The saints reveal much to us about God, and they give us an example of how to live as followers […]

Celebrating the Saints: Four Ways to Be a Catholic Superhero

As a child I always thought of the saints as Catholic superheroes. While they may have started out as normal people like you and me, I imagined that they received their super powers of holiness after being bitten by a radioactive, grace-infused spider or by falling into a chemical pit of sacred ooze. The fact is, however, that we have all received super powers of holiness through our Baptism! Baptism transforms us from ordinary people […]

Which American Saint Are You?—Free Lesson Plan

When we learn about the saints, we must remember that they were ordinary people just like us. Like us, the saints had to figure out who they were in the eyes of God and then live out that vision. They give us examples of how people dedicate their lives to God. Learning from them, we can figure out how to dedicate our lives to God, each in our own way. We can use each saint’s […]

Holy Patrons for the New Year

A few years back, I read about a tradition that St. Faustina had with the sisters of her convent. On New Year’s Day, they would gather to pick a holy patron for the new year. Here is an excerpt from her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year’s Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning, during meditation, there […]

Called to Be Saints

We are all called by God to be saints. Every year, I strive to teach the children in my parish third grade religious education class that they are included in that call. I explain that the saints were not perfect; they were regular people who sometimes messed up. The difference is that saints changed their lives to live as disciples of Jesus. The saints are examples for us in how to follow Christ. That’s a tall […]

Saints for the New Evangelization—Free PowerPoint Presentation

Flip through any tabloid magazine and you’ll see splashy spreads touting all the ways the rich and famous are just like us! They drink coffee. They have children. They are busy going about their lives. These magazines act like this is information we should care about, and worse, we should emulate. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it’s not easy to remember what real role models are made of. Instead of People, we should be reading Saints. […]

What Can the Saints Teach Us about the New Evangelization?

Let’s identify some saints that we can look to as models for the New Evangelization. I’d like to be able to take credit for this notion of saints serving as evangelization models, however, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beat me to it when he canonized seven new saints in 2012: Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Marìa Carmen Sallés y Barangueras, Marianne Cope, Kateri Tekakwitha, and Anna Schäffer. In doing so, he referred to these […]

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