1,436,300,000,000. Wow, that’s a big number! Slices of bacon we ate in the house of formation last year? Nope, not even close. Number of years since the Cleveland Browns last made it to the NFL playoffs? No, that was actually just eighteen—long enough for sure but not quite 1.4 trillion. No, the glory of this digit belongs to the estimated number of pictures that were taken on devices last year, and according to some, it’s projected to climb another 12% in 2021!
That’s a lot of pictures and it's easy to understand why that number is so high: we love them. They make us laugh and remember where we’ve been, they bring us close in heart when we can’t be together in person, and they can inspire us, even sometimes deeply enough to change our thoughts and the way we live our lives. Behind every one of our pictures is a story, and who doesn’t love an incredible story?
Well, there are about twenty pictures I saw this past year whose story did affect me. They were of all various shapes and sizes, each cut out and glued onto a poster board that was hung on the back wall of the seventh grade classroom here at Most Holy Redeemer elementary school. They were pictures of holiness, a collage of relatively recent saints and blesseds of whom we have actual photographs. The story told in their eyes was Christ’s. There was the matter-of-fact look of St. Bernadette Soubirous, Lourdes visionary, content to live in the closet of convent obscurity after her meetings with the Mother of God; St. John Paul II, whose face, even as a child, convicts me to rise up and be done with lesser things; and let’s not forget Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, holding himself vertically on a rock climb, daring me to reach up with him toward the heights.
The inspiration they gave me was to do just that: keep on climbing toward sanctity, toward letting their same story of Christ be my story. They reminded me about the call of all Christians to live the adventure of grace and echo the same satisfaction and joy of St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
-Br. Adam Schmitzer, SOLT