Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sitting Among Future Saints: The Oklahoma Catholic Women's Conference 2016

I drove north towards the interstate, slowly moving my car through the roadwork. Next to me, a travel-weary Fr. Andrew Apostoli sat, regaling me with stories about his life, work, and trip to Oklahoma. When he brought up Mother Angelica, I hesitatingly asked, 
"So did you know her? Personally?"
"Oh sure," he responded. "She once grilled me for a couple hours." 
Fr. Apostoli then proceeded to tell me about how once, while he was preaching, he told a joke and heard Mother Angelica's voice ring out as she laughed loudly in response. My mind whirled as I took this information in. Of course he knew "the" Mother Angelica; a lot of people did. Still, this is pretty amazing. I'm driving around a friend of future saints.

After stopping to pick up dinner for Father from a restaurant, I drove him to the hotel and then headed back home. Bright and early the next morning, I drove down the interstate yet again, thinking about the conference that lay in the upcoming hours. And as I soaked in the peace of the early Saturday morning, I kept glancing at the passenger seat next to me. Disbelief and awareness crept into my heart, and a surreal feeling washed over me. Last night, a future saint-and a friend of saints-sat there. In my car. This thought continued tug at me for the rest of the day as I worked at the Oklahoma Catholic Women's Conference. 


After helping to check-in some of the conference attendees and praying at Mass, I planted myself behind Fr. Andrew Apostoli's booth, where I had been appointed to help Father and sell books for the day. In the following hours, I had many conversations with different people, brief interactions with Fr. Apostoli, and short stretches of time when the events of the weekend simmered in my mind. And as I spoke with Father or witnessed many Catholic women line up to speak with him, I saw the holiness of his life and the purity of his heart flowing out. This man will be a saint someday. As I assisted him throughout the day, checking in with him, going over the schedule with him, and making sure that he had food, I thought about how I was serving a future saint: a man who-no doubt about it-is striving for Heaven. 
You know, just chilling with a relic of
Fulton Sheen...no big deal ;)

At one point in the afternoon, during one of the Conference talks, I was put in charge of watching over a second-class relic of Archbishop Fulton Sheen that Fr. Apostoli had brought along. Earlier in the day, I had met people with personal connections to Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I've read some of his writings. And here I was, sitting with a small piece taken from his clothing. I was watching over something that belonged to a future saint. 

Looking back over the 2000+ years of the Catholic Church, we see so many saints who were contemporaries of each other. Obviously, the Apostles all knew each other and hung out. Then you have saints like Francis and Clare, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, Timothy and Maura (super epic married saints for the win!), Benedict and Scholastica, Francis Xavier and Ignatius of Loyola, Robert Bellarmine and Charles Borromeo...the list goes on. 

During the Oklahoma Catholic Women's Conference, this reality of the Communion of Saints-and saints being contemporaries of each other-bounced around in my head a lot. For hundreds and hundreds of years, saints have known each other in real life and helped each other get to Heaven...and it's still this way today. Fr. Andrew Apostoli personally knew both Fr. Benedict Groeschel and Mother Angelica, both of whom I'm sure are future Saints, though I'd be willing to bet that they're in Heaven already as saints. I got to serve this man who will probably be a saint someday-and knew other future saints-it was a huge great blessing! 
Even after a long day at the Conference, Fr. Apostoli was bubbling with joy and
kindness! (this picture was taken at the end of dinner)
But-aren't we all called to be saints? Shouldn't we all be striving for Heaven-to be "saints," even if we aren't formally canonized "Saints"? Shouldn't I treat each person I meet as a future saint? For the duration of the Conference, I was sitting among future saints. Yes, I was sitting with a second-class relic of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and yes, I was sitting with Fr. Andrew Apostoli. But I was also sitting among various amazing women who are called to glorify God as saints in Heaven. 
Will I treat them with with this in mind? 

7 comments:

  1. Fr. Andrew Apostoli wrote the book Fatima For Today The urgent Marian message of Hope.

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    1. Have you read it? I have not, but it looks really good!

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    2. Yes. From Ignatius Press. Historical facts, prayer, sacrifice, suffering and holiness of life. Explains questions and objections raised concerning Fatima.

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  2. This was so beautiful. I am sure Mother Angelica is cheering us on from Heaven. My husband and I were praying with a priest friend of ours the week she died and after asking for the intercession of his favorite patron saints, he asked us to add our own. I sort of hesitatingly added "Mother Angelica?" after St. John Paul II and St. Therese, and Fr. practically jumped out of his seat and said, "YES! I got a strong confirmation from the Lord, and Mother Angelica is saying "use me!!"' One of those awesomely weird Catholic stories you don't really know where else to put but somebody else's combox, haha :)

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    1. Jenny, thanks for sharing! I love those kinds of cool, random Catholic saint stories (I'm just a big fan of the saints in general. In fact, earlier today a friend shared a St. Charbel miraculous-healing story, and she was like, "this is really random, but I think you're a person who would really appreciate it")

      So yeah, I really like that Mother Angelica story, and I definitely have the inkling that she wants to be kept busy now that she's passed on (like a crazy Italian version of St. Therese of Lisieux or something)-I've been recommending her as an intercessor to a lot of my friends who are currently wanting some saintly help.
      Thanks for stopping by, Jenny! Happy Feast of St. Mark!

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  3. I think this is what verses like Proverbs 27:17 and Hebrews 10:24 are all about. We're so blessed that God doesn't ask us to strive towards heaven on our own but that we have family members, friends, fellow church members, etc. who share our faith. We're able to journey together!

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    1. Shannon, I love that Proverbs verse!!! (I think it's great how it challenges and calls us on to help each other grow) I totally agree-it is so encouraging that we don't have to strive for holiness by ourselves, but that God gives us such amazing community (in all forms) to help us out!

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