The Solemnity of All Saints is an opportunity to ask ourselves about the things or people we idolise in our lives. I write this reflection a little after the 2000 Olympics and there is very little doubt in my mind that the sportsmen and sportswomen of this age are idolised the world over. Music and film stars also fit into this category. Perhaps a more important question to ponder is whether or not they are healthy role models for us. Do the lifestyles of these modern day icons or idols lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus? If they do not then there is something very important lacking in the examples of life that they place before us! I am not saying that they offer us nothing to look up to, but that they may not have all the answers either!

Parents and educators have a supreme responsibility to present heroes of the Christian faith to their children and students as role models for adult life and commitment. It is important that as the faith of a young person develops they have credible and realistic role models of faith to look toward and aspire to emulate. Without this spiritual focus in the development of a young adult’s character, there is a danger that the secularising and anti-faith tendencies in the world will prevail. The Church has a great responsibility to aid in this formation process. There ought to be readily available and realistic biographies of the saints available to all Catholics.

It is often not easy to find the right balance in education and formation. I remain ever grateful to my dad for the time he spent reading the lives of the saints to me as a youngster of about 9 or 10 years. I still remember the impact that particular saints had on my young mind and heart! Perhaps that was the beginning or at least the cultivation of my vocation to the priesthood. We often hear complaints today about the shortage of priests. Perhaps it is not surprising that priests are in short supply when you compare the amount of time young people spend watching sports in comparison to the time they spend reading about or being told the lives of the saints! Perhaps we are to blame for the shortage of religious and priestly vocations today simply because we do not promote them to the same degree that other ways of life are presented to children? Let us each choose to do our part in the cultivation of devotion to the saints and also draw inspiration for our own faith from their extraordinary lives.

How many lives of the saints have I read? How often do I speak to my children about these incredible men and women?

Lord Jesus, you have constantly raised up men and women outstanding in holiness to be examples of faith for us. Help me to get to know the saints as my friends and inspiration. Help me to get to know them intimately so that I can introduce them to my family and friends.