Have you ever meditated upon what a chancy business the awarding of the Victoria Cross ... our most significant award for military gallantry ... is?
Where a conflict is at its fiercest, the chance must be greatest that there will be no surviving witness to describe the heroism of the most heroic.
I hope you will forgive a certain crudity in a comparison I am about to make.
The 'Saints business', our preoccupation today, All Saints' Day, may be a bit like that.
If we attain beatitude, we may be surprised that the greatest figures in Saint-land are men and women we had never heard of. I have in mind a passage in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce where the Narrative Persona [Sorry!] is being taught about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. "The under-sides of the leafy branches had begun to tremble with dancing light ... some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.
"First came bright spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers ... Between them went musicians and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. ... only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face."
The Narrative Persona naturally wonders if this Lady might be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy; but Lewis is careful to keep this speculation from becoming explicit.
"'Is it? ... is it?' I whispered to my guide. 'Not at all,' said he. It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.'
"'She seems to be ... well, a person of particular importance?'
"'Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.'"
The Guide goes on to describe the wonders of the Lady's earthly life, and the effect she had on all those ... even the animals ... with whom she came in contact. "And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them ... there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life."
So many Great Ones in Christ; so many gracious intercessors; so many of whom we may never have heard.
Orent, nihilominus, pro nobis.