When I was in the 10th grade, I had a physical education teacher that often told me “birds of a feather flock together.” Back then, I’d laugh it off because I knew the person I eventually wanted to be and the non-conformist crowd of high school “rocker” misfits I associated with wasn’t that path.
In my post-college years, everyone is all business minded. My co-workers over the past 5.5 years have said things like “I want to surround myself with other like-minded people.” To them, and rightfully so, the art of association is very important. It’s often said “it’s not what you know but who you know” that’s key. Clearly, “who you know” can have tons of benefits.
For some months now, I’ve been reading about the lives of the saints. This week, I began reading about Martin De Porres. A mulatto (Spanish/ African mix) that was a lay brother of the Dominican Order in Lima, Peru. Interestingly, God gave St. Martin many gifts such as levitation and communication with animals. Because of Martin’s personality and his diligence as a porter/custodian, many priests and religious came to seek his assistance and guidance.
Something interesting is that in the city of Lima, Peru, there were many saints in his area. St. Martin frequently conversed with St. Rose of Lima, patron of South America. In addition, it is reported that Archbishop Turibius Mongrovejo gave instructions to both of the saints while he served in Lima. There are a few more saints that were contemporaries in Peru at the time that eventually became saints.
When we look at the life of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, who was also a porter, he had a very close relationship with St. Peter Claver. In fact, St. Alphonsus gave St. Peter the guidance to go to South America for his mission to the slaves.
St. Peter Claver is often labeled as the “Saint of the West Indies ” but his counterpart St. Francis Xavier was dubbed the “Saint of the East Indies.” Before he was a great missionary, St. Francis was a student in Paris along with another popular future Saint, Ignatius of Loyola. Basically, they were lodging buddies. There’s really no other great way to become acquainted than that! Eventually, these two along with 5 others would take vows of poverty and chastity and establish a new order approved by the Pope called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
SS. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen were very close friends. These two saints are very important figures of the Eastern Church and to those in Eastern Orthodoxy. Both come from a line of saintly family members. Both were bishops. Both studied together. Both strong theologians in times of difficulty during the heresies of the early Church.
The point I’m making is that these saints all “flocked together ” and eventually became saints. This shows that in fact those we hang around are important and can have an eternal impact on us. Perhaps if St. Peter never received the revelation from St.Alphonsus then the missions of Cartagena, Columbia wouldn’t have been so successful. Or if St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius never lodged and mutually befriended each other then perhaps the Society of Jesus wouldn’t have started.
Therefore, those who we keep around us should impact our lives positively. So often I hear “the goal of marriage is to get your spouse into heaven ” but what about your close friend? In our age of fast-paced “I want it now ” world, are we attentive to our friend’s needs? Simple as giving advice and guidance, as I’ve discussed, can influence someone’s life for the better.
There are many great examples in the history of the Church of saints hailing from the same city or knowing each other. I guess they prove the saying “birds of a feather flock together ” as true since they share the same beliefs, same eternal destination, same Lord, and they’re all found closely associated together.
I am empowered by this. I want to surround myself with “feathers” that look to the cloud of witnesses before us as guides into eternal happiness with God.