Warning: This is NOT a religious post.
I am, however, keen to introduce a Saint. Learning about Saints is one of the most compelling ways to bring these souls to some semblance of humanness. Their stories help whittle away some of the angles that fight the rounded holes of life.
St. Matthias is in my radar today. He’s the patron saint of alcoholics (reformed and otherwise apparently), carpenters, tailors and smallpox. He was the Apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot after Judas committed suicide.
St. Matthias and another man were the two candidates. Both men believed in, and practiced, the teachings of Jesus while the hordes chided and denigrated those teachings or ran from them lest they catch some dreadful disease like smallpox. Or Love.
This decision was made in between Jesus’ Ascension and the descending of the Holy Spirit. It’s puzzling that mysticism and energy work – done today – can be pooh-poohed when one of the world’s Holy Books is so rich with incredible events. Didn’t Jesus say that he wasn’t doing anything that others could not do?
So the Disciples prayed for guidance to make the appropriate decision. As the highly secular Wikipedia reports, the prayer is written in Acts:
“Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:23-26)
Matthias doesn’t receive a lot of press, but there are stories of his miracles, such as having been forced to drink poison by pagans. He not only survived, but healed other prisoners also forced to drink the foul concoctions.
Since his good works caught enough attention to endow him with sainthood status, numerous churches carry his name. One example is an Anglican Church in Victoria B.C. A small parish, St. Matthias, whose Rector is a long time acquaintance, had been suffering financial pains similar to other small churches in the Diocese.
Rev. Bob Arril was leading the weekly Bible study with a few of his faithfuls a couple of years ago. As reported in The Diocesan Post, Rev. Bob said they were sitting in the cold nave of the church, “And I noticed one of the group who seemed to be quite intense in what I thought was the study going on. To my surprise she was studying the chair that I was sitting on.”
The parishioner, who wants to remain anonymous, recognized that Rev. Bob’s chair was either a good replica of a 17th century Huanghuali Yokeback armchair or it was a valuable and authentic piece of furniture.
A matching one sat elsewhere in the church.
The church had done an inventory in 1992 and decided to place a value of $2,000. on the pair for insurance purposes. However, after local experts viewed the chairs and after a visit from Harold Yeo, specialist in Chinese art for Sotheby’s Auction house in New York, the chairs were put in safe keeping while the Parish underwent an extensive search to find the donor. None could be found.
The parishioners, determined to deal with the short supply of finances, were also determined to maintain their support for the Rainbow Kitchen, the Mustard Seed Food Bank and a number of other outreach programs locally and globally. Therefore, the Parish decided to put the chairs up for auction. They estimated receiving a possible $250,000. for the pair.
The chairs were shipped to Sotheby’s in New York. Within minutes, the chairs were sold for $630,000. With the purchaser’s premium, the total sale was $758,000 U.S.
The miracles of St. Matthias continued. The tiny Parish will have $615,000., Canadian, with which to continue all their good works. There’s even consideration of expanding into another project supporting low-income housing.
We can find lots of reasons to denounce historical decisions made in the name of religion. We can point fingers at the patriarchal demonstrations within the religious hierarchy. We can question the gold glitter on walls of a building that lures the “ka-ching” of a widow’s mite on the collection plate.
But the generosity and Love demonstrated by a modern day disciple and his flock, after discovering a small fortune has not included a war, a demand for a better quality chalice or new policies to reward the faithful. It quietly and humbly assures the presence of a saintly fingerprint on each of their hearts.