I have always thought it says a lot about Catholics as to whether they have favorite saints, and who they are if they do have special saints. Here are my top ten.
10. Saint Andreas Wouters-Most saints have been extraordinary men and women. That was decidedly not the case with Andreas Wouters! A scandalous priest, he fathered several children. Suspended from his priestly duties, he was living in disgrace when God him the opportunity to die a martyr’s death, an opportunity he seized with both hands like a drowning man cast a life line. His courage and steadfastness redeemed his life of sin. May all of us have such a happy death as he did. Go here to read about him.
9. Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ-Not canonized yet, I have no doubt that “God’s Jester” is a saint in Heaven. During the Cristeros Rebellion in Mexico, he adopted many disguises to bring the sacraments to the Mexican people. A lover of jokes, he is proof positive that saints need not be solemn. When the Mexican government executed him, a death he met with incredible courage, the officials took copious pictures which appeared in newspapers. The strategy backfired with Cristeros troops treating the pictures as precious relics and carrying them with them into battle. Go here to read about him.
8. Saint Marianne Cope- Throughout my life I have been blessed with the friendship of strong women, starting with the love of my formidable sainted mother, and perhaps that is why I have always been drawn to strong female saints. Few have been stronger than Mother Marianne and her nuns who pioneered the care for female lepers in Hawaii. No difficulty or danger could deter her from bringing God’s love to her lepers. Go here to read about her.
7. Venerable Matt Talbot-Some saints become famous during their lifetime and some, the vast majority no doubt, are known only to God. Matt Talbot’s was a quiet path to sainthood that would be known only to God, but for the accident of his dying on a street in Dublin. However, God does not see as man sees, and I have always thought that this reformed drunk ranks high among the champions of Christ. Go here to read about him.
There is little question that the Catholic Church believes in the reality of the spiritual realm — St. Paul in Ephesians speaks of “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” But it is a realm inhabited by angels, demons, and of course, Satan himself. (And, if you’re an enlightened “post-Vatican II” Catholic like Fr. Richard McBrien, you can scoff at the very mention of the latter).
As far as ghosts are concerned, the prevailing tendency among Catholics is to look askance at the concept of “lost souls”, trapped in this life and waiting to cross over. There is scarce mention of “ghosts” in the Catechism and judging by the absence of clear, definitive teaching — the Church has refrained from adopting a firm position on their existence.
According to Gary Jansen, a contemporary Catholic from Rockville Centre, Long Island, ghosts simply didn’t exist. For him, “heaven, hell, angels were basic tenents of my Catholic faith, but never basic tenents of my life. . . . these topics were never discused during my twelve years of attending parochial school.” While his devout Catholic mother would mention strange occurrences, he prided himself on his rationality.
Until, that is, when he had an unsettling encounter in his son’s bedroom in 2007. Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night is an account of one Catholic’s real-life haunting: Continue reading