Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » "I've got friends in *high* places..."


Today is one of my favorite days of the year and tomorrow is another. It is quite common to put those that have died well, lived well, and did well on the face of a coin, mountainside, or even a stamp. Even in the fast lane, there are youtube videos, twitter handles, fan pages on facebook that have been created for those that allow us to stand on their shoulders. Inside our homes, we place pictures of loved ones that have passed on from this life to another. Death is but a process of life, an important one nonetheless, a change of address.

There survives a list, The Litany, which gives the names of many that we remember that lived heroic lives of virtue. There are also many that were led to their death and had become the ultimate witness, so many in fact that lists of their names have not been recorded. Many have also shared in the life of heroic virtue in union with the most central person of history, a person born in the crossroads and died on a cross. This is the day we celebrate those. This celebration stretches back to the 4th century to create a day of remembrance for the many that celebrate the same reward as those on the list. This list includes lay people, nuns, priests, monks, bishops, popes, kings, queens, etc.

In those years of high school teaching, I remember making a pretty strong statement that I celebrated (not to the point of excess) more often than even the wildest and craziest of fraternities because they celebrate only four days a week (Thursday through Sunday, the weekend for college students). But how can this be? Well, just about everyday we celebrate a name on the list. When you have a special connection with those, celebrating their life becomes a great practice. For example, many monks take the name a patron namesake and also celebrate his feast day as if it their own birthday. If the monks have given up meat and alcohol, then they are allowed to consume those things on these special days (this depends on the practice of the monastery). Had I been called to the religious life, I figure I would have taken the name of Brother Gregory Basil Athanasius Quintus John Andre Felix... which is only the first seven days of the year. If the name were 365 names, I could celebrate each day as if it were my birthday and even more so on those large feast days like today.

The Litania Sanctorum reminds us that we are like "nanos gigantium humeris insidentes," "dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants!" Our beginning is in this world, but we are made for another. Maybe Oasis even understood this.