Transcendent Experiences Connect Us to Spiritual Realities

Did you see the article in the August 25th edition of Our Sunday Visitor entitled, “How to live like Saints in a Secular Age?” I kept the article near me because I wanted to reference it as we prepare to enter the Month of November with our two beautiful feasts, November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints (a holy day of obligation in the Church), and November 2, The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls day).

On Nov. 2, we remember all the holy men and women who do not have a particular feast day. On that day, we remember all the holy men and women who were never canonized but lived lives of holiness, often hidden, normal, maybe even mundane and routine, but nonetheless: they lived their lives in holiness because they lived their lives with faith.

We probably know who these unnamed saints are: Maybe our parents come to mind, or a faith-filled teacher, or a neighbor or friend that inspired us to live the faith. They may never have been (or will be) officially canonized, but they were holy nonetheless. The article reminds us that we live in a “secular” world that is often not spiritual or religious. It’s the reality that we face. But because of that reality, do we not have even more opportunities to shine the light of faith?

The author of the article, Bob Plunder, highlights the need for transcendent experiences. Without these transcendent experiences that connect us to spiritual realities, there is no need to believe in God. Transcendent experiences is what the Church has to offer to people. The desire for God can be enhanced through modern technology, but often the opposite is true. What is found on Netflix or TikTok or Facebook, and the technology that goes along with it, can actually pull us away from the transcendent. A generation ago, most Catholics would have been carrying a rosary in their pocket or purse. Maybe now, we carry a phone and along with it, Emails and Web-browsing has replaced the rosary, and as a consequence, so many of us are sucked into a dark hole.

As a possible solution, the author suggests that we must “recover a sense of what the incarnation can mean.” He goes on to say, “The incarnation names our belief that God, in the second person of the Trinity, [the One] that has taken on our flesh in Jesus Christ in order to save us. He lived and moved among us, fully God and fully man. … He knew the heat of the noonday sun and the chill of a cold night. He was raised by a mother and father. He spoke amid conflicts; He preached; He listened. He knew joy and mourning. … We have to recover a sense of what the Incarnation can mean because of the manifold, often hidden, ways that our secular age has shaped our sense of what might be possible with God.”

It is particularly in the midst of the secular world that we are called to live like saints. What does that look like? It is the wife that sits by her husband’s bedside as he suffers the ravages of cancer. It is the parents that pour out love on their child that suffered a terrible car accident, cheering him on for every small victory in rehabilitation. It is the adult child that faithfully visits a parent that doesn’t even recognize them due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, and yet faithfully visits them week-after-week, advocating for their care. It is the countless number of parents that get up day-after-day and go to work, oftentimes to a thankless job that lacks real significance or value to them, but a job nonetheless that allows them to care for their loved ones, to keep a roof over their heads, and to keep them fed and clothed and educated. In the midst of all the busyness of life, in these situations and so many more, people recognize their need for God. They make room and time for God, coming to Mass, receiving Holy Communion, living a sacramental life without any fanfare. Oftentimes, the priest knows who you are. You’re the one that comes in at the last minute to Mass dragging the kids with you looking haggard and tired, but you’re there and the Church is better for it! The Feast of All Saints is for you!

Editor’s note: Read the full article at Our Sunday Visitor: how-to-live-like-saints-in-a-secular-age/

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the October 27, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Getty Images