Saints and saints

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord; Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Twenty years ago today Helen Prahl died. She was my grandmother. There is a picture on my desk of her reading to me when I was around three years old. We are laying on the floor together, with a blanket over us, sharing a story. As I grew up, she helped me to know that I was precious, and loved. Some would argue that she spoiled me at times, and they would be right. I believe that her prayers helped me stay in school when I ‘hit bottom’ with an addiction to alcohol and drugs. I also think her prayers got me through seminary. She was a woman of faith. She had a wonderful sense of humor and great twinkle in her eye that let you know that, even if you were being, shall we say, a bit rambunctious, she was enjoying it immensely! She had me work as a model for a brief stint when I was four years old; my wages consisted of a cheeseburger and “Man on the Moon Sundae” at the HC Prange lunch counter. My modeling career was cut short by a repeated request to hold hands with a little girl who was modeling an outfit that complemented mine. I don’t know what she got paid.

Grandma was there for me without condition – to listen to my stories, offer me support and hugs and maternal care, and her generosity to me is a model I still try to live up to in my own life. She was also very human. She was not perfect and she knew it.

She is, to me, a saint, a small s saint – not one of the official Capital S saints recognized by Christendom, such as Francis, Clare or Benedict. I thank God today for St. Helen – Grandmother, Woman of Faith, Businesswoman, Lady, Listener, Reader of Books, teller of stories, and one who, in many ways, made God’s unconditional love tangible and concrete.

Who are the small s saints in your life?

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