“The saints are not superman, nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each one of us. They are people who, before reaching the glory of heaven, lived normal lives with joys and sorrows, struggles and hopes.”
– Pope Francis
My wife and I had three criteria when deciding on names for our children. First, the name needed to be classic or stately in the highly likely scenario that the child becomes the president of the United States. Second, the first and middle names needed to flow smoothly as we yelled them up the stairs in an angry voice. Lastly, the name needed to be based on a saint. We welcomed the first three children in full accordance with these terms. We correctly predicted their gender (though we never found out before) and were prepared with thoughtful choices. Then came number four. Not only were we blessed with the surprise of our fourth child, another girl, but we were doubly surprised that she wasn’t a boy. While we had a girl’s name in mind, as Tricia and I looked at our newborn daughter, it just didn’t fit. Hours later, we landed on Norah. Classic? Yes. Able to be screamed up the stairs? Confirmed several hundred times over. But a saint? It’s a stretch. We’ve claimed Honore from the 1300’s, tried to make a link to Norbert. However, in so many ways, seven years later, we are still trying to figure out where this child came from.
Now in first grade, Norah joined her fellow classmates in every parochial school’s favorite November tradition of dressing up as a saint. Our daughter picked Katharine Drexel for her Philadelphia roots. As Monsignor brought the microphone to each child and they introduced themselves and the saints they were portraying, I realized for most of Norah’s classmates, there wasn’t a historical saint that matched their baptismal name. I couldn’t help but wonder which one of them would be the first? Which of these children might be the first saint of their name? I love my little Norah with all my heart, but do I really believe she could be canonized one day? As I sat in church watching her with her big smile, I imagined what I’d do differently as a parent if I knew God had that in store for her. Then I realized. He does. He calls us all to sainthood. We simply need to believe in the possibility and work on the probability. Regardless of what we name our children, are we claiming them for sainthood? Are we claiming them for the Lord?
As I heard the litany of saints during the feast this past week, I couldn’t help but get a little excited at the prospect of one day adding a few more names to the list. As we go through this month of gratitude, let’s give thanks to the saints we have and ask their intercession on the saints we can help form and the saints we can become.
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