Welcome. This is going to be fun and hopefully equally enlightening. Let me first start with explaining the title of the website and how I draw personal spiritual growth from being both an outcast and a saint.
I have not always defined myself as a practicing Christian, for years I was a practicing Buddhist. However, after a personal spiritual awakening, I recognized myself more inline with the life of Jesus than I did with Buddha. This awakening, opened me up to a new inner journey, one that includes saints.
The belief in saints is not something I have always held, but as I learned more about spiritualities and faith practices, I began learning more about saints. Although I had heard of saints referenced, it was usually the more common saints such as St. Francis, who is the most referenced saint in the Library of Congress than any other saint. Then the others like St. Christopher or St. Joseph two of other canonized saints that folks might reference, even if they are not Roman Catholic.
However, it might be unique that I started learning more about saints while learning about the Buddhist Tibetan Saint Milerape. It was comforting to learn that in Buddhism someone could be a murderer and live a life that was not of virtue, but could later be found to have a spiritual value or worth. I had not experienced the concept of forgiveness or penance.
Furthermore, having attended mostly Baptist churches growing up, the concept of saints beyond Jesus was not common. Learning about saints was a relief, given the fact that much of my early life was not spent in a church, zendo or any other spiritual place. The automatic deduction from that is, I did not have much intention of living a life with holy virtues, but tried to live with positive moral intent.
Thankfully I am a seeker of sorts and almost constantly looking for an understanding of what I experience throughout life. I pay attention to the inner stirrings and I am not afraid to cross the threshold of the unknown to find answers. The saints offered the awareness that, I have an opportunity to redeem myself for good, felt like a promise.
The promise is in the answer, of the original definition of saint. The original definition is different from the one used today to reference a person canonized by the Pope. The formal process of canonizing people, was started in the 12th century. To be canonized, it requires two miracles to be attributed to someone who has died, but while alive, lived a virtuously Christian life.
The word saint comes from the Greek word hagiazo, which means “to set apart”, “sanctify” or “make holy”. It was used most often in reference to someone who might not have lived a virtuous life, but has turned their way of living toward more holy pursuits. The usage of saint in the Bible, such as in the letters Paul wrote in Romans, were not in reference to people who were canonized by the church or people who were dead, it was used to reference people, acting like the apostles out spreading the word of Jesus.
If we then look at what Jesus did, he went to the outskirts of town to talk to the people who were the outcasts of society. The disciples were not gathered in the middle of town, he went out to find the followers. This is not because Jesus felt they were the only ones that needed to be saved and all the others had already been saved. Jesus went to outcasts, because Jesus knew that an outcast already understands how to be themselves, even if what the do is not popular or the easy path. An outcast is someone who is set apart from the rest of society, for some reason or another, often not of their own making.
In the end Jesus was an outcast among the outcasts. Jesus was cast so far out, he was crucified for being himself. This might feel similar to how many of us who are outcasts have been shunned, just because we are ourselves as an outcast in the many forms we have outcasts today.
Even if we do not identify as a social outcast, if we look into our life, we are probably able to see a time that we felt like an outcast in some situation or a group. Perhaps, through embracing this awareness, we can all live as outcasts to a new way of experiencing life. This is just the beginning of learning how an outcast is also a saint. Of learning how to connect with our ancestors of spirit in the communion of saints, while learning about a saint each month. We might even begin to learn how we share some common threads with canonized saints and maybe even begin to see saints around us.