A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Recognising Saints

I am sure that many of us have had the experience of wondering whether this one or that one could be a saint.


Fr Ken Scully sm, 1928-2000

Such wondering could be asked of a priest I knew at the seminary, who was the professor of moral theology. He looked like a clown, dressed like a tramp, and lived like a gypsy. He was what one would call sui generis, or even eccentric. He was a great advocate of the English economist, E. Schumacher’s little book, Small is Beautiful – economics as if people mattered.

He would regularly bike erratically each week to go fly fishing. No one ever evidenced it, but instead of catching fish (I don’t think he ever did), like St Anthony, he probably preached to them. One of his distinguishing marks, apart from being refreshingly un-selfconscious, was his genius. He had the gift of putting very complicated concepts most simply. Whenever he could, he would communicate in images, usually ones he drew himself. In terms of artistic ability, he was creatively challenged, being compensated though by the provocative message his images embodied.

One such was on that mercurial concept, love. On butcher paper he had scrawled a map of modern Israel or Palestine, depending on your political persuasion. It was devoid of borders or people of different ideological fanaticisms. It had the harp-shaped lake of Galilee at the top, sporting a geeky smile, a wiggly line mimicking the river Jordan flowing into an unsymmetrical rectangle with a glum, frowning face, the Dead Sea.

He then posed a question: why did the Sea of Galilee have a happy face and the Dead Sea a sad face? Why? Because the Sea of Galilee was always giving, in contrast to the Dead Sea, which never gave and only took, always taking water from the Sea of Galilee via the Jordan River.

And there, he chortled, was something of the kind of love Jesus wants us to have for each other when he said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Always joyfully and spontaneously giving. Ken Scully sm flew with the angels. Why? Because he took himself so lightly. Saints are like that.

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