Well, I haven’t been saying much of late.  That’s partly because I’ve made the switch – I bought an Apple desktop (iMac) for my home computer (as my old home PC slowly dies).  And a fair amount of time and energy is being spent on learning to use the Apple, and in slowly figuring out how to transfer some programs (and many files) from the PC to the Apple.  (I’m trying not to simply move what’s on the PC to the Apple.  That’s what I’ve always ended up doing in the past.  And it’s accumulated a lot of junk over the decades.  I want the junk gone!)

I’m also doing a lot more reading of a spiritual nature.  Sometimes it’s sections or chapters of books.  But mostly, I have four books about the saints, and their writings, and the writings of the early church for when I say Matins (Morning Prayer) at the church office, and I have another four books on the saints and selections from spiritual writings for when I say the offices at home.  (No, I don’t use them all every day.  But I’m actively using all of them.)

Since the eleventh I have enjoyed reading about Clare of Assisi (important to me because I was an Associate of the Franciscans for upwards of 20 years), Jeremy Taylor (a real advocate of religious tolerance in his writings, though he did not live up to what he wrote when he was appointed bishop), Jonathon Myrick Daniels (an Episcopal seminarian working for civil rights in the south, when he was martyred, who was on my personal list of saints before he made our calendar), Mary (the mother of Jesus), John Henry Newman (a prominent Church of England priest who converted to Roman Catholicism), Florence Nightingale (who I had not known had a very developed mystical bent and was also a real pioneer in helping women move outside their homes into the working world), Octavia Hill (a lay woman who changed the relationship between landlords and tenants, and championed public open spaces), and Maximilian Kolbe (a Franciscan friar who was martyred in Auschwitz).  Those are just the folks from the books at church.

I’m not going to boar you with a lot of details.  But I’ve been focusing more on how to model my life on living out the great commandment (loving God and neighbor).  And while all of these folks have both strengths and weaknesses (even in the rather limited picture of them that I get from my readings), I am finding plenty to think about and to emulate in their examples.  All of them, in some way, actively lived into the great commandment in their lives.  They are an inspiration.

I heard a speaker last night who talked about meeting a man who was the sole survivor of a massacre of the residents of a Jewish ghetto during the Second World War.  In his dissertation, he explored why many people were bystanders (who did not help those who were killed) while some people reached out a hand, at great risk to themselves, to help (like the woman who took him in and helped him survive).

His findings?

There was no correspondence between religion or economic status or any other of the standard breakdowns of society and whether people stood by or helped.  The only real correspondence was between those who had role models of people who actively helped and those who did not.  For me, flawed as they are, these saints are role models for living out my faith – even if it costs me something in my own life.

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