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
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
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