Today begins a new year in my life!  I’ve lived 32 of them now.  I’m not one of those ladies who stops counting at 29.  On the contrary, I’m filled with wonder and gratitude each time I complete a trip around the sun!  When I think of where I’ve come so far–good places and bad, brilliant places and horribly dark, happy places and mournful–I just feel so amazed and so very blessed!  Sometimes I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and how very good God has been, and always is!

He gave me a most beautiful and glorious day.  I saw more trees with turning leaves.  And as I was driving home this evening, there was a beautiful sunset, with a crescent moon hanging out with the beautiful planet Venus.

I didn’t do much today.  Just relaxed.  Went to Mass.  Visited some stores.  Ate some sushi and drank some beer.  Bought myself a little birthday cake too.  It’s been a good day!  I’ve been needing the rest.  So, I’m really going to enjoy the extra hour of nighttime tonight!  That may be the best birthday gift of all, LOL!

Actually, I’ve received many wonderful gifts.  Many lovely cards and kind notes–it’s wonderful just to know that I’m in people’s thoughts and prayers!  Mom and Dad gave me some clothes money, and I bought some really nice and much-needed new clothes–3 skirts, 2 blouses, and some new shoes!  My sister made a donation to one of my favorite charities, Aid to the Church in Need, and is sending me another gift, which I am looking forward to!  My dear friend from college gave me a copy of the book Thy Will be Done, which is a collection of letters written by St. Francis de Sales–one of my favorite Saints and favorite writers!  He always offers such practical and helpful advice!  I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time.  A dear co-worker gave me a beautiful little porcelain statue of Mary holding some roses; it has a little light inside, and glows beautifully!  I look to her while praying my Rosary.

Today was also All Saints Day, of course.  The Saints are a true family to me, a very important part of my life, especially since I live alone.  Whenever I’m lonely, sad, or need to talk, they are always there.  I just think about them, call out to them, and there they are.  I can truly feel their presences!  Most often, I will call for our Blessed Mother, or for my spiritual father, St. Dominic, or for my guardian angel and/or St. Raphael.  If I’m in a particular situation, I might call upon an appropriate Patron Saint, or else a Saint who perhaps dealt with a similar situation in his or her life.  I find that all the Saints are very experienced and wise, and sometimes I just call upon whoever cares to listen.

I was thinking earlier today that we Catholics (and other, Catholic-like Christians) are so blessed in the Communion of Saints!  When you think about it, it’s quite a wonderful notion: that we have people in Heaven who know and love us, who counsel and comfort us, who help us in many wonderful ways.  I don’t know that any other religious tradition provides such an understanding and such a rich and living relationship with the dead (who, for us, are even more alive than we are!).

Our understanding and relationship with the dead stems naturally from our understanding and relationship with the living and loving God.  I know that even some Christians reject the Communion of Saints and the ways in which Catholics interact with them… they seem to think that our relationships with the Saints somehow detract from our relationship with God.  They might as well say that our relationships with people on Earth detract from our relationship with God–but that would be untrue and pretty absurd.  God created us to relate with each other and to know and love and help each other.  In fact, we can’t have a good relationship with God if we don’t have good relationships with each other.  And death does not have the power to change that!  God frees us from death.  The Saints are living proof of that.

So… why shouldn’t we talk to them and form relationships with them?  They’re exactly like people on Earth… only better!  And they can help us to be better people.  They can teach us to know and to love God better, to pray better, to live better.  Far from distracting us from God, they actually direct us to Him, just as they themselves were directed during their earthly lives.  They are such a blessing!  May we follow in their footsteps.