My Beef with Some Saints

When I embarked upon the pursuit of my undergraduate degree, I was wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, and absolutely clueless about most things in life.  And like many 18-year olds who head off from home to see what the world is about, I was like a sponge.  I was ready to learn and to soak up every bit of college life at the university of my choosing.

also, i was very blonde. i know it's difficult but try real hard not to judge.

also, i was very blonde. i know it’s difficult but try real hard not to judge.

What I quickly encountered at said university was a great love amongst the study body for saints that I had either never heard of, or who I perceived to be extra kinds of boring.  I didn’t understand what drew these incredible people around me to these saints that I did not relate to in the least.

But remember, I was a sponge.  And I really admired the people I went to school with, so I knew they weren’t the crazy ones.  Thus, I swiftly set out to comprehend exactly what these people saw in these saints who I then thought were overrated.

There were three saints, in particular, with whom I had a major beef.  Everyone loved them.  And I mean everyone.  Except me.  I didn’t get what all the fuss was about.  And because I wasn’t in on the glory that everyone else saw, that made my beef with these saints even bigger.

That is, until the saints themselves won me over.

Below is the list of saints that I embarrassingly admit I didn’t like initially, and how they ended up capturing my heart and devotion.

St. Pio (Padre Pio)

Considering it’s his feast day today, I figured we’d start with this wildly popular Franciscan priest.  I have never met a person who knew of Padre Pio that did not love him.  Me?  I didn’t get it.  I didn’t understand what was so attractive about this random saint.  My now husband has always loved him, and his family even received a relic of St. Pio for their devotion.  David would talk about Pio like he was his grandfather, always entrusting his biggest of intentions to this man’s intercession.

So what finally did it for me?  I learned just why Dave talked about him like a grandfather.  While on earth, Fr. Pio promised that he would not enter the gates of Heaven until the last of the souls entrusted to his care and prayer entered.  “Lord, I will stand at the gates of heaven until I see all my spiritual children have entered.”  That’s a risky little promise, Padre!  I was taken aback by his devotion to those who sought his spiritual aid.  I then saw why David had made himself a spiritual grandchild of the man who was so close to Jesus that he even bore His Wounds.  Padre Pio has had me ever since, and I plan on taking him up on his word.

St. Thomas Aquinas

I can tell you exactly why I had a beef with Thomas Aquinas: he was so freaking smart and I had to study his writings and struggle to comprehend the depths of intellectual and spiritual wisdom he had achieved.  His writings stretched me to my maximum capacity.  He challenged me, and I didn’t like it.  He called me to greater heights of intellect, and I detested him for it.  Honestly, for the first couple of years of my undergrad, I respected Aquinas for his book knowledge, but never once thought about his holiness of life.  I assumed it simply did not exist.

How foolish I am.  What showed me how obscenely wrong I was?  A clip from the video series produced by one of my favorite priests on earth. (The whole video is money but for the specific part I’m talking about, start at about 4:23)

Aquinas’ response to Jesus shook me to my core.  After I heard it, it was all I could think about for days.  Yes, Aquinas was very, very devoted to God, not only with his intellect, but with his whole heart.

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)

I know.  You’re looking at me like I’m crazy.  I don’t blame you.  How could I not love Mother Teresa?

I don’t know why I had a chip on my shoulder about Mother Teresa.  Maybe it was because everyone loved her so?  Maybe it was because I didn’t quite understand her mission?  Whatever the case, I was not convinced of her greatness like everyone else around me was.

Then, when I signed up for my first mission trip, my mission leader recommended reading a book by Mother Teresa.  I, of course, internally rolled my eyes because naturally she would be suggested.  But because I refused to be the slacker of the mission team, I read the book.  It was full of short quotes from Mother Teresa about forming the missionary heart, one that is totally surrendered to the will of God.

Total Surrender

This book changed my heart forever and I’m constantly rereading it because it is a gold mine.  I saw that Mother Teresa was a hardcore disciple of Christ and that she only did what she did because of love for Him.  She’s the best, she really is.

Looking back, I laugh at myself for judging these saints before I really knew them.

Please tell me you’ve had a beef with certain saints before because of a lack of understanding.  If you have, let me know who below!  And how they won you over (or if they haven’t yet, how they’re working on it ;)).


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  1. Oh this is funny. I was the same way with St. Therese for a while and I’ll admit it. . . St. Francis himself! It was almost as if the more popular the saint, the more likely I was to be “meh” about them. Silly really!

  2. Gosh, you’re great. St. Paul and the Little Flower, they have since won me over. Clearly.

  3. People’s devotions really are funny. Or maybe I should say our responses to other people’s devotions. So often we’re turned off because we just. don’t. get it (like you said). But isn’t it amazing how you come to have an appreciation for them and it occurs in a manner or instance that you never would have expected? I didn’t know that about Pio’s promise for his spiritual children. I want to jump on that boat!

  4. Saint Francis of Assisi. I’m still working on it. I have a hard time with how harsh was on himself. For example, he though that sleeping on a pillow was evil, beacuse it was so comfortable. I think I’ve just had to agree to disagree with some of his ways 🙂 He was a very holy man though and clearly did something right.

  5. I want to check out that Total Surrender book! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Olivia, I would have never even guessed! For myself, I don’t like anything that everybody likes and won’t explain to me why I should like it too. From a spiritual sense, I usually have to be careful with this tenancy so that I don’t improperly discern something …

    About Padre Pio, I had an experience* in Italy where he is, that made it so that every time I try to find out more about him (I had a general understanding of him when I went there), like, even by reading a book, I quickly end up very frustrated because it isn’t telling me what I am looking for. I feel like I met HIM and, googling things, reading things (not that that is bad) just isn’t going to replace that or complete the situation for me. It’s interesting.
    *The time that I went there was when he had just been taken out (?) for the first time about a month earlier and would be out (?) for the next year only. I was able to stay for almost an hour where he was, but I was most moved by the bigger than life-size pictures of the pope (to my memory … ) and other clergy dusting the casket off before they opened it … since they didn’t know what they were going to find inside (to my knowledge). But obviously something much bigger happened than just me walking around and looking.

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