TACKED THOUGHTS - Nancy Unchuan Toledo (The Freeman) - October 31, 2015 - 10:00am

My friends who know me well would know that I have a great love for and devotion to saints. They would also know that if they were having some difficulty or other, I would be able to suggest a novena or two to a particular saint.

As my faith has grown, so has my desire to know about these holy men and women. And one thing in particular that I am fascinated with is when I find out that saints used to know each other. This happens more often than not. After all, I realize, that one cannot live a holy life in a vacuum. We all need good and holy people to inspire us and pray for us.

Just last month, Pope Francis canonized Louis and Zelie Martin together. Louis and Zelie were husband and wife. That’s the first time the Catholic Church has ever canonized a married couple together. Although, they’re hardly the first couple saints. Still, what a great gift it must be to married couples to have yet another pair of intercessors in heaven who understand what it means to live the vocation of marriage.

In fact, there’s a whole list of these saints and the different ways in which they sanctified the various relationships in their lives. For example, there are Sts. Monica and Augustine, who were mother and son. Sts. Ignatius, Francis Xavier and Peter Faber were roommates at the university where they studied (who says college is all about cramming and partying?). St. John of the Cross was the confessor of St. Teresa of Avila (although he was much younger than she was).

Sts. Cosmas and Damien were brothers. As were apostles of Jesus, Sts. James and John, who were also business partners (or colleagues) with St. Peter. Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi shared not only a deep love for Christ but a deep and loving friendship with each other.  As did Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal; Francis was also her spiritual director. (They wrote many letters to each other so I suppose that makes them, penpals?—in the most literal sense of the term, of course.) Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were twins. Then, of course, there’s the ultimate trio, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

I’m sure that there are many other examples to prove the point that the saints teach us that we are not only called to a life of holiness but that we are also called to holy relationships. Maybe, this is what being soulmates is all about. Maybe having a soulmate is not just having that one other person we’re destined to fall in love with or marry. Maybe having a soulmate is having someone whose soul we are called to accompany in our spiritual journey. And since it’s soulmate and not solemate, maybe we can have more than one. I think we are all given opportunities to lead the people we love and who are closest to us to goodness and truth and beauty – sometimes through presence, other times through prayers.

I like this idea of having soulmates. Whether it’s a spouse, a sibling, a child, a parent, a cousin, or a friend, it makes the journey more joyful, less difficult. After all, even Jesus picked twelve men to be in his inner circle. He called them to be closer to him and to each other. Were it not for Jesus, I wonder if Bartholomew would have ever met John, or James would have ever hung out with a tax collector like Matthew. God brings people to our lives to bring us closer to Him and also to each other. There’s plenty of love to go around in the Father’s plan.

One of my favorite anecdotes about the saints is of St. Benedict and his twin sister Scholastica. Since he lived in a monastery and she lived in a convent, they very rarely saw each other. She would visit him once a year. On one such meeting, Benedict, along with his companions, came to see her. They spent most of the day together.  As the sun was about to set, Benedict took leave of his sister. She begged him to stay so that they could spend more time catching up.  (Of course, the accounts I read said that she wanted to have more spiritual conversations with him – but I’d like to think she just really wanted to hang out with her brother whom she barely saw – spiritual conversations or not.)

Anyway, Benedict, very strict about his own rule about not spending the night outside his cell, refused. Scholastica bowed her head in prayer. A few moments later, as Benedict and his companions were about to leave, a heavy storm cloud appeared and it began to rain. Benedict was stranded. Looking suspiciously at his sister, he berated her, “Sister, what have you done?” “Well,” she said, “I asked you for a favor and you refused. I asked God and he did not refuse me.” Of course, the rain lasted throughout the night and Scholastica and Benedict had their spiritual conversation, and maybe even some occasional news from their village.

Prayers and soulmates and grace. It’s a powerful combination.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with