Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Senior Writer Larry Livingston.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, I had two saints on my mind. One was my mother, whose funeral was that day. The other was Father Stanley Rother, a priest from Oklahoma who’d been martyred in 1981 in Guatemala.
My mom was on my mind for obvious reasons. Since her death several days earlier I’d been reflecting on her importance in my life and in the lives of my brothers and sisters. It was Mom who first taught us, before we could speak or understand, what loving touch means. It was she who first modeled faith for us. And it was she who, after my father died when I was 16, showed us what perseverance looks like when she began a new career at the age of 49 after nearly 30 years as a homemaker.
But even though my thoughts were mainly with my mom and family that day, I also thought about Father Rother from time to time because that was the day of his beatification Mass in Oklahoma City. (Beatification is the final step before canonization as a saint.) It was an event that, earlier, I’d considered attending on behalf of Unbound.
Stanley Rother was a contemporary of Unbound’s co-founders Bob Hentzen and Jerry Tolle and, today, he serves as a role model and source of inspiration for our community. His commitment to the people of Santiago Atitlan cost him his life during the Guatemalan Civil War. Even though he knew he was in danger, he refused to leave the people he loved and had dedicated his priesthood to serving..
Two very different saints were on my mind that day. One had died tragically young and the other lived to know the difficulties of old age. One had poured out his life in a moment of loving courage and the other tenderly over a lifetime of courageous love. One is recognized by the Church Universal and the other, as most saints are, by only God and those who knew her.
On Nov. 1 we celebrate All Saints Day. The Unbound community joins in prayer for the many saints whose lives have touched ours in big and little ways. May they rest in God’s peace and may they be forever remembered.
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Thou was their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
(From the traditional hymn “For All the Saints” by William Walsham How)