How many of these saints can you name?

As a young priest, starting out my ministry in Buenos Aires Argentina—the terrain of Pope Francis, I remember once challenging a woman with noble spiritual aspirations with this statement:  “You are called to become a saint!”  I remember her reaction was of shock and she almost fell off the chair that she was sitting on!

This reaction with respect to the call to sanctity, to really become saints is not uncommon even among very good Catholics!   Why such a startling, even shocking reaction? For the simple reason that most people have an erroneous concept of sanctity.

In a Catechism class I asked this question:  “How many of you want to go to heaven?”  All the hands shot up immediately—without any hesitation!   Then the following question was:  “Now how many of you want to become saints?” Not a single hand for the showing.   I then pointed out the bare truth! All of us are called to become saints because in heaven God is present, the angels are present, the Blessed Virgin Mary is present. Finally, to go to heaven you must become a saint—there is no way around it.  There are two categories of saints: the canonized who have been officially proclaimed saints by the Holy Father, after approved miracles attributed to them after their death. Then, the huge majority of saints are the “anonymous”- the so to speak, “uncanonized, but still they are saints!

Once again, how many of these saints can you name?
Let us give a few concrete proofs that we are all called to become saints.   The essence of sanctity, holiness, becoming a saint is simply and ardent desire and decision to follow in the footsteps and to imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “The Holy of holies”. All of our holiness flows from union with Christ, the grace that flows from Christ’s Paschal mystery—His Passion, death, and resurrection, and the imitation of Jesus Christ. These graces flow most abundantly through the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church and the sacramental life, especially the most Holy Eucharist which is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  All of the virtues that constitute the essence of holiness are truly present in every consecrated Host because it is Jesus Himself.

Other proofs for the universal call to holiness.    In the Sermon on the Mount, in one of the Beatitudes, Jesus challenges us to desire holiness, with these words: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, (another translation, “justice”) for they will be satisfied.” (Mt. 5:6)  In the same context of the Sermon of the Mount Jesus launches a command, in the imperative tense of our obligation to become saints, asserting:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt.5:48) This is not the conditional tense, but it is an IMPERATIVE—meaning, Jesus obliges us or commands us to be holy!

This modern saint, you can surely name????
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta reaffirms this commitment in these unequivocal but potent words:  “Holiness is not the privilege of the few, but the duty of all.” The same saint insisted that any young woman who wanted to enter into the convent to be a future Missionary of Charity had to have an ardent desire to become a saint.

Finally, one of the most important Documents of Vatican II,  a Dogmatic Constitution, titled “Lumen Gentium”, chapter V,  is nothing other than “The Universal call to holiness”.  This means that holiness is not just for a select group of elite individuals, but it is universal--- meaning that all, that is to say, all are called to become saints.

Our Lady is the Queen of all saints!
Let us beg Our Lady, the Holy Mother of God, that all of us might have an earnest yearning to become saints and to implement the words of Jesus Himself: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”