Friday, July 12, 2013

United Nations Declares July 12 "Malala Day": A Reflection on Saints for Our Times

A few days ago, a reader, bosicO, suggested here that reform-minded groups within the Catholic church should put forth their own candidates for sainthood--and that these need not be Catholic. Bosic's thinking about this matter dovetails with my own. I've long had my own eccentric, idiosyncratic canon of saints who have made a profound difference in my own life, but will never--barring miracles I don't see coming down the pike--be officially canonized.

For my money, here's a living saint, who deserves our admiration, support, and emulation: the United Nations has declared today "Malala Day" in honor of the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai. Malala's addressing the UN today.

As many readers will already know, she was shot in the head in 2012 for the crime of being a young girl attempting to go to school. Time magazine chose her in April as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The photo at the head of the posting is by Mark Seliger, and is from Time's article (by Chelsea Clinton) explaining why Malala was chosen for this distinction.

Ever since I've seen that photo of a young girl who was, several years ago, shot in the head on a school bus for the crime of seeking to obtain an education, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. In my view, this is one of the things saints do for us: they provide us with iconic pictures of exceptional humanity touched by divine fire that we just can't get out of our heads.

Cyrus Cassells: "I'm just going to school."

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