Happiest of All Saints Days to you and you and you! Except that this celebration was actually on Sunday, November 1. I missed my deadline. I’m only human. And the saints are/were too!
Two years ago when I was a freshman in college, I said the rhyme to St. Anthony aloud because my phone was nowhere to be found in my dorm room. “Tony Tony, come around. Something’s lost that can’t be found.” My roommate looked at me like I had 2 heads. Make that 17. I had no idea that the saints were not as commonplace to others as they have been in my life!
While most people make picture collages for their friends’ birthdays, I made one for JPII on his feast day two weeks ago. (How can you resist?!) Again, my roommate (a different one) asked me what a feast day is. So before I start expressing my interest in the saints/the whole concept of sainthood, I want to clear up a few things for those who are completely lost. P.S. I’m still learning and always will be!
From the Catholic perspective, saints are holy people who have lived extraordinary lives. They are those who have made it to heaven so therefore, we are all called to sainthood. The Church looks to the saints as great models of the faith that we should seek to imitate. We pray with them and to them for intercession, not as a replacement for talking directly to our Lord, but in addition to because they are with God in heaven. Aka we don’t worship the saints.
Putting it in a super super simple form without the necessary details, canonization (the Church’s declaration of a new saint) occurs after two miracles have been recorded and proved through the intercession of that saint. These canonized saints usually have particular experience in something and so, they are called the patron of that area. For example, St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate causes.
All throughout the year, canonized saints have a feast day so we can remember them on an individual basis. The Church sets aside one day a year (always on November 1) to celebrate the saints who are both known and unknown. Kapeesh?
To me, what is most beautiful about relating my life to the saints is that we have an extreme similarity that is the center of it all. We share the same God who is calling us out of comfort and into greatness. They prayed to the same God, they listened to the same God and they laid down their lives for the same God as you and me. WOAH.
“Where most men work for degrees after their names, we work for one before our names: ‘St.’ It’s a much more difficult degree to attain. It takes a lifetime, and you don’t get your diploma until you’re dead.” – Mother Angelica
By just glancing at a few, we can see the hardships that this heroically virtuous lifestyle brings. The saints had lots and lots of obstacles like sinful pasts (hey, St. Augustine), deep loneliness (howdy, Mother Teresa) and immense torture (how you doing, St. Maximilian Kolbe). But they also had free will. Their brave choices in inviting Jesus into their circumstances are what set them apart.
The same strength and hope is within you and for you. The world needs this from you! It needs courageous people to seek out the existing communion of saints and run with them towards a life rooted in Christ. Just as you are. God will provide.
At World Youth Day in 2013, Pope Francis expressed the need for saints. But not in the way that you may think. “We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends…We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.”
So call Papa John’s and order extra garlic sauce. Listen to your hot pink iPod nano circa 2006. Have a glass of wine with the girls. And do it all with an immense capacity to love. God has been and continues to give you the opportunity to be a saint for others and to honor His holy name.
As St. Paul said to the Ephesians in 4:1, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. I don’t know what God is specifically calling you to but I do know that it is sainthood. This universal vocation that Pope Francis reminds us of on Twitter sets the standard high for our lives. Intimidating? Sort of. Empowering? Absolutely!
We are invited to a life lived in such deep communion with God that it actually looks different. Not for outward praise but for humble hearts that attract others to find the source of this goodness. Pizza in hand, I double dog dare you to strive for sainthood. I’ll order the bread sticks.