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Pick & Mix

Pick & Mix

Put your matches away – I’m not about to advocate a ‘Pick & Mix’ approach in matters of faith and morals, but instead when it comes to borrowing from the saints of God.  As laity, we have the freedom to ‘pick & mix’ the teaching of the saints according to what suits our particular walk of life.

As we journey into God, the influence of particular saints will be greater or smaller as their teachings are more or less appropriate to our journey.  A friend who until recently had adopted a largely Benedictine spirituality told me the other day that for her, ‘St. Benedict is like a stern but kindly grandfather figure, a little remote, who has left me a book of instructions on how to grow closer to God.  St. Francis, on the other hand, is like an older brother who, smiling, grabs my hand and takes me there’. You can imagine the august St Benedict stepping down as Principle Guide for this particular life and letting little brother St Francis take the lead.

It can be the case too, that we can pick & mix from different saints in our approaches to prayer.  Perhaps we love St Ignatius of Loyola’s advocacy of the use of imagination in scriptural prayer as well as St Alphonsus’ classic formula for the Stations of the Cross: they can easily and profitably be combined.  In professional life, the teachings of St Josemaria Escriva are very helpful but when we try to create order from chaos at home, Josemaria’s approach may simply add to the frustration whereas St Thérèse of Lisieux’s focus on faithfully trying to be the person God wants us to be is key to harmony in the ‘domestic church’.

The lives of the saints continue to provide inspiration on a daily basis.  You may have read some hagiographies in the past that had an adverse effect on your digestive system (I know I have), or others that scared you out of a week’s growth (today’s saint, Teresa of Avila I found too scary to contemplate for many years!), but look again.  Study how the Saints of God have prayed, have tackled their difficulties and decisions, have coped in adversity.  Find a saint – or saints – who had a vocation and temperament like yours and be inspired by what they did with it, or rather with what they allowed God to do with it through them, and then ‘go and do likewise’!

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