By Susan Ciancio
It can be hard to see connections between the lives of the saints and our current culture, but we can make some pretty good assumptions about how the saints would have tackled the evils of our day, including things like abortion and euthanasia.
Below are three saints who have feast days the next few days, but you may have never heard of them. Or, if you have, you may not know how they helped build a culture of life in their own time, or how they might have done it if they were alive today. These devoted men are beautiful examples of Catholic faithfulness. During their lives, they served others as Christ did. They cared for people, they taught God’s word, and they brought people closer to Christ.
How can we use their examples to be pro-life advocates today?
St. Matthias (May 14)
After Judas betrayed Christ and took his own life, the Apostles knew they must replace him with another man. In the Jewish tradition, 12 was a sacred number, and Christ had specifically chosen 12 Apostles, so the Apostles wanted another man to join them in their mission. They understood that the next Apostle had to meet certain criteria, and only two men did: Matthias and Joseph Barsabbas. The Apostles prayed and cast lots. They then chose Matthias.
Though not much is known about Matthias, we do know that he was a devout follower of Christ while He was alive. We know that he witnessed miracles, that he heard Christ teach, and that he remained steadfast in his faith after Christ was crucified. After Matthias became an Apostle, he traveled throughout the countries bordering the Caspian Sea preaching the word of God. We also know that he was martyred for this faith.
Though we no longer have his writings, we do have this quote: “As to the soul, we must develop her power by faith and knowledge.”
Matthias lived those words. He traveled and taught about Christ, converting countless numbers of people. If we, too, are to develop the power of our souls, we must heed his words and follow his example. What does that look like in today’s world?
Just as Matthias had the courage to evangelize God’s truths, so must we. When we hear someone talk about how abortion should be a woman’s “choice,” we must speak up and tell the truth that abortion kills a baby every single time. When we hear people talk about “mercy killing” or euthanasia, we must stand up for the sanctity of life and explain that everyone has value and that we don’t have the right to take a life. And when we see someone belittled or bullied, we must stand up for him. Matthias was martyred for his faith. Though we will likely not have to die for our faith, we may have to let a piece of ourselves—maybe our fear, our shyness, or our unwillingness—die so that we can save others. It is only then that we will become the person Christ wants us to be.
St. Isidore the Farmer (May 15)
Isidore was a simple Spanish farmer who worked his entire life for the same man. From the time he was young, he prayed unceasingly and had a deep devotion to God. He was often seen praying as he plowed the fields, and he spent much time in church praying. He married a woman who also became a saint, and they had one son, who died as a small child. Despite this heartache, Isidore never lost his faith.
Isidore also had immense compassion for the poor, and he and his wife would frequently take them food and pray with them. It is also said that he had the ability to make food multiply. He died peacefully in 1130 and is thought of as one of the five great Spanish saints because of his holiness and his love for others.
Though Isidore was a simple man, his profound faith had a great impact on everyone who knew him. Can we say the same for ourselves? How do we impact others? When we see someone in need, do we serve that need, as Isidore did? Christ calls us to love and serve others, yet sometimes it is a difficult thing to do. So how do we use Isidore’s example to help us live a pro-life life? And what does living this example look like in today’s world?
Isidore had great compassion for others. He frequently prayed with the poor. We can follow his example and express that same compassion as we pray in front of an abortion facility. We can show that same compassion by volunteering in a homeless shelter or in a nursing home. His prayers and his presence showed people that they matter. Your prayers and presence will do the same. In addition, Isidore suffered the loss of a child, yet he did not lose his faith. He turned to God in prayer because he trusted Him. We too suffer losses in life, and we may be tempted to respond with anger, resentment, or bitterness. But Isidore did none of these things. When you feel tempted to lash out at God for something that has hurt you, remember Isidore’s compassion, his love, and his faith and seek God in prayer.
St. Andrew Bobola (May 16)
Andrew was born in Poland in 1591 to a very devout family and was educated by the Jesuits. As he grew, he developed a love for teaching the word of God and desired to become a priest. When he was ordained, he felt called to bring people to the Church and back to the Church, as many had been influenced by a great schism going on in the East.
Andrew spent his life traveling and teaching others about Christ. Witnesses and friends said he was “on fire” to save souls. He is responsible for saving countless souls and for bringing thousands of people to the Church.
In 1657, Andrew was captured by enemies of the faith and brutally tortured until he died.
According to Pope Pius XII, “[Andrew] did not merely restore and strengthen the faith of the Christians, languishing and on the verge of collapse, but roused them also to weep for their own sins, to settle their disputes, to heal their divisions, to restore true morality.”
It’s a beautiful goal, isn’t it—to be the peacemaker and to help restore morality in our homes and communities? We can use Andrew’s example to set our own souls “on fire” for our faith. What does this look like in today’s world?
Andrew wasn’t afraid to speak out against heresy. When he saw that people were falling for erroneous beliefs, he knew he had to teach them the truth. We see a lot of erroneous beliefs today—especially the belief that a preborn baby is just a bunch of tissue or that he isn’t really alive. But we know that’s not true. We can use Andrew’s example to draw strength to help us as we talk to women entering abortion facilities. We can speak out when a friend claims that abortion, euthanasia, or birth control are “good” for society and help reduce population. We can help eradicate the belief that the disabled would be better off dead or that people with disabilities have less value than those who don’t carry those crosses. These modern-day heresies are just as bad as the ones Andrew fought.
We hear the word “hero” bandied about a lot today, and we are quickly learning what makes a true hero. It’s not acting in a movie, rushing for hundreds of yards, or hitting a ball farther than anyone else. It’s our actions that make us heroes. It’s the things we do to help others or to make their lives better or safer. It’s the kind word to a struggling mother or a scared mom walking into an abortion clinic. It’s the food basket dropped at the doorstep of an elderly neighbor.
These things may not change the world, but they change someone’s world. And these are the things we must do every day to show others that they matter and that they have value.