December 2009 Saints and Heroes

Saint Helen
Humble origins and humble use of power

Helen was an innkeeper’s daughter,who caught the fancy of a Roman General named Constantius. They married, and she gave birth to a son. Soon afterwards, Constantius was named Caesar and divorced her in favor of a more “respectable” union with the Emperor’s daughter. Eventually, however, Helen’s son Constantine succeeded his father as Caesar, and then occupied the Imperial throne. Attributing his successes to the intervention of Jesus Christ, Constantine began taking classes on becoming a Christian and published a new law (the Edict of Milan) establishing tolerance for Christianity throughout the Roman Empire (Christians had been persecuted off and on for about 300 years). Though already in her sixties, Helen followed her son’s lead, and became a Christian. So deeply did the faith take root in her soul that she did more for the Church in her last twenty years of life than most people do in eighty. She set a public example of prayer by attending Mass in dignified but plain clothes, unlike other noble ladies, who took advantage of such occasions to flaunt their beauty and their expensive wardrobes. She supervised the construction of churches and shrines at the holy sites in Rome and Palestine, rediscovering many ancient relics, like the cross of Christ’s crucifixion. And wherever she went, her attention to the poor and reverence for priests and people consecrated to God made a lasting impression on even the most cynical Romans.

 

Saint Tutilo
Drawing people to God through music
Anything that is true or beautiful is a bridge to God, because God is the source of truth and beauty. St. Tutilo discovered this during his school days in a famous monastery school in Germany (the school of Saint-Gall). Tutilo lived in the Middle Ages and studied music and art, but most importantly he fell in love with God. Once he finished high school (or whatever they called high school 1,000 years ago!) he became a monk himself. He was a very good monk and a very accomplished
artist as well. (Art & music are usually part of a monk’s life and studies, as a way to glorify God.) He became very good at painting, oratory, sculpture, metal work, mechanics, and especially music. The other monks chose him to be headmaster of the school where he had studied. He channeled his creativity and love for art into his mission of bringing Christ to his students. Word about his talent and zeal spread to the whole country. People loved to come to hear him preach about God and lead musical performances to honor God. He was even invited to perform and preach for kings in many surrounding countries, but he did not like all the attention. His talents drew many people closer to God. He is a link in the great chain of artists who, since the dawn of Christianity, have put their human creativity at the service of God’s glory & His Church. We need more Christians willing do this today. God is calling some artists to produce religious art & music, and others to produce secular art that is infused with Christian values and prepares peoples hearts for the message of Christ. Art & music have power to evangelize, and we need all the help spreading the gospel we can get!

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