Will F. Peterson
Who's on Your Saint Wall?
(from my classroom last year)
A popular practice in Catholic classrooms is to have a "Saint Wall" somewhere around the room. The students put up pictures of saints they want recognized, ideally sharing a little about the pictures they have chosen. The project provides the opportunity to talk about the communion of saints and the importance of that lowercase "s."
The "S"aints are those who the Church has officially recognized as having lived lives of faith and are currently with God in heaven, but they are not the only ones there with the Lord. Every other person who has died and gone to heaven is a "s"aint. We know so many saints: grandparents, parents, family, and friends who have gone before us and surely reached heaven. These people would be "S"aints if the Vatican had unlimited resources and time to study each faithful person's life. They intercede for us and serve as examples of Christian living just as well as a canonized "S"aint can set an example. The blessing of the Saint Wall project is watching the pictures go up of St. John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and St. Michael the Archangel, but also students' family and friends, hearing the stories the students tell for why a godparent, neighbor, or recently deceased grandparent proved to them the importance of faith and its practice.
The Saint Wall becomes a more accurate image of heaven. No longer is St. Peter standing there with the disciples and a few select others behind him. Now, St. Paul stands alongside Aunt Mary who taught her niece what it means to face challenges like cancer with dignity and devotion to Christ. St. Therese is found with an abuelo who taught his grandchildren how to pray the Rosary. Padre Pio smiles along with a beloved godparent. All are where they belong.
My saint wall contains many well-known "S"aints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius, St. Anne, and others. It contains a few others the Church recognizes but might not be as widely recognized by the Catholic faithful; Bl. Charles de Foucauld and Bl. Miguel Pro are first into my mind. Finally, the wall gets covered with "s"aints: my grandfathers, my grandmother, my high school track coach, a great-uncle, an uncle, a boxing coach, a family friend, and the list goes on. It is a gift to pray with each and every member of the Wall. All are members of the communion of saints, building the Kingdom of God and guiding me in how to join them in the process.
Who's on your Saint Wall? Who are the "S"aints and "s"aints to whom you can turn in sadness or rejoicing, seeking their intercession?
Take time this October to walk with them, acknowledging the great sacrifice Jesus made to unite us all, living and deceased, in this marvelous web of Creation and life eternal.