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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Day 230: All Saints Day: Tony, Tony, look around; something’s lost that must be found.”

Everybody loves the saints and we all have our favorites —the joyful and poor Saint Francis of Assisi, the gentle Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, her older Carmelite sister, the strong and sensible Saint Teresa of Avila.

As children in Catholic school we looked forward to the blessing of our throats on St. Blaise Day each February – St. Blaise venerated the patron saint of throat disease and somewhat randomely, wool combers .

St. Barbara’s father discovered she had become a Christian and gave her to the Romans to be killed. Any wonder he was later struck dead by lightning.

Barbara became the patron saint for those who felt threatened by thunder-storms and fire. She later was also named the patron saint of artillerymen (explosive) and miners (more explosions).

St. Jude is patron of lost causes …. My mother used to pray to him for me. Imagine that…

Bury St. Joseph upside down in front of a home you need to sell… Real estate agents order these from Amazon

It is very Catholic to feel so at home with the saints that we send them requests for the daily things of life. Saint Anthony of Padua is a good example. Remember the little prayer rhyme to him: “Tony, Tony, look around; something’s lost that must be found.”

Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, wrote “to the church in Corinth, to you who have been called to be holy... (1 Cor 1:2).

He would have written that same letter to all of us because the Corinthians were struggling to make their faith active in their lives, just as we are.

We need to talk about becoming a saint with a lowercase s—one of the millions of unnamed and unknown persons who have found Spirit in their lives and loved people with all their minds, souls and hearts.

Today we hear the canard that doctors and nurses are happy when people die of Covid because they make more money with every death. This is absurd and hurtful – even dangerous to those who have cared for us during the pandemic. They are the saints among us who have given selflessly, hour after hour, providing compassionate care in the face of danger to themselves. They are often the only people in the room as patients pass… watching as all their efforts to defeat the virus end in death.

The pain these professionals feel is especially acute for Asian doctors and nurses who have, all too often, been singled out for abuse. One doctor writes:

“As physicians, we took an oath to help the sick and suffering, even those who are distrustful or prejudiced against us. Every moment in the hospital, we put ourselves and the people we love at greater risk of contracting the virus, because this profession is more than work, it is a calling. But, when patients refuse to be seen by anyone “Asian-looking” and when care and concern is met with bigotry and hate, it is an understatement to say that it hurts. It becomes one more pebble in a shoe full of rocks.

“Fear, panic, and hysteria are around us, but in this time, the time of coronavirus, we have also known kindness, empathy and love. We have seen self-sacrifice, generosity, innovation, and creativity, but, as Asians in this country, we must practice one more virtue — forgiveness. As Asian physicians, we must support one another and learn to practice empathy for our fellow human beings, our patients, because despite the intolerance we have experienced, we have a job to do.

This is a moment like no other, an opportunity to meet the challenge placed before us, to care for those who do not care for us and cannot care for themselves. There is little doubt that we will rise to the occasion, but in the quiet moments, when you feel drained, alienated, and alone, remember you are one part of a greater whole. Reach out, send a message, bump elbows in the hall, and don’t forget that, although we may not be okay right now, we will be.”

On this All Saints Day, we lift up those brave doctors and nurses who care for us. We celebrate them with this poem:

What we do here is brave.

We travel this land of fragile human-ness,

holding all the questions that fear and fierce love send our way.

We do well to remember that we are both guest and guide.

May you have courage to meet wounded spirits with compassion

in their stunning depths of pain

and stand by them in creative space

where story and suffering join,

new meanings emerge,

old wounds heal.

In this season of saints and souls,

may you have good companions

in this place between the bleak despair of illness

and the unquenchable light of spirit.

May you admire that spirit in those you serve,

no matter how expressed—noble, troubling or unwise—

and keep faith with the gifts you bring.

And may you learn from these frontier places

wisdom for your own heart—

wisdom to welcome the blessings of your kindness

and be held with love in all the seasons of your life.

—Adapted from poems in John O’Donohue’s book

To Bless the Space Between Us


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