Every year the Church joyfully
celebrates ALL SAINTS DAY—Nov 1st!A classical ecclesiastical model divides the Church into three parts,
but all belonging to the same family of God: the Church Triumphant, the saints
in heaven, the Church Militant, those living soldiers on earth, fighting for
their salvation, and finally, the Church Suffering—the souls in Purgatory,
already saints but in need of purification to attain Heaven.
This article will focus on the CHURCH
TRIUMPHANT—the saints in heaven who have victoriously triumphed over their
three primary enemies—the devil and his lies, the world and its seductions, and
the flesh and its imperious disordered cravings! Following are ten precise
insights into the most captivating, heroic, appealing, joyful, tremendous
people that walked on planet earth and now are permanent residents in heaven—God’s
friends, but also your friends and mine—the SAINTS!
Saint Monica and Saint Augustine
1.SAINTS NOT BORN SAINTS.A somewhat prevalent error is to believe that
the saints were actually born saints. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All saints are conceived and born with Original Sin, with the bad tendencies or
inclinations that they must overcome and dominate relying on their own efforts
but especially the grace of God. Actually quite a few of the great saints had
lived very sinful past lives before their conversion, to name a few:the Good thief, Mary Magdalene, St.
Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Mary of Egypt, and St. Margaret of
Cortona—known as the “Second Magdalene”.
2.YOU ARE CALLED TO BE A SAINT.Often when teaching boys Confirmation I will
ask how many of them want to become saints, and more often than not nobody will
raise their hands.Then I ask them how
many want to avoid hell and go to heaven and then all hands go up. Then I go on
to explain that in heaven we have the Triune-God (The Blessed Trinity), The
Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints. So, for you to go to heaven you
have to become a saint!
3.JESUS COMMANDED US TO BE SAINTS!Listen to the words of Our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, who is our model and especially in holiness of life: “Be holy as
your heavenly Father is holy.”(Mt. 5:48)Grammatically the tense is the imperative, which means that this is a
command from God Himself. If God commands us to do something then He will give
us the sufficient grace to carry it out!God never commands the impossible, but always gives us sufficient grace.
Jesus said to Saint Paul:“My grace is
sufficient for you.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed this truth
succinctly: “Sanctity is not the privilege of the few, but the duty of all.”
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, chapter V is “The
universal call to holiness.”This is a
must read for all who truly desire to become saints—check it out!
4.SAINTS COME FROM ALL OVER AND ALL
PLACES AND ALL CULTURES.Sanctity is not
limited to one time, place, culture or ethnic group. Sanctity is open to all;
rather, sanctity is commanded by Jesus for all.Leaf through an anthology of saints and you will find the most diverse
backgrounds and experiences. Some are nuns; others are priests, Bishops or
Pope. Still others are married couples, like in the case of the parents of St.
Therese Lisieux--- Saints Louis and Zelie Martin. Still others have embraced
the single lay vocation like Giuseppe Moscati and Blessed Giorgio Frascati.
Some have died very young—like Dominic Savio (14) and Maria Goretti (11) years
of age. Then there are those who have lived long lives—Saint Alphonsus lived
into his nineties; Saint Anthony of the desert as well as St. John the
Evangelist lived into their hundreds!Some died of sickness and many died as martyrs.Therefore sanctity cuts across and transcends
time, place, culture, gender, intellectual formation or lack of it. All are
called to become saints and all are given the grace!
The saints in heaven
5.THE SAINTS AND THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT.The saints can be classified as being in the
Church Triumphant. They have fought the good fight and they have run the good
race and now they are in heaven crowned by God victoriously for having
conquered sin in their lives and for having relied and trusted in God’s
infinite grace and his fathomless mercy.Jesus said to Saint Faustina that the worst of all sinners can be the
greatest saints if they simply trust in God’s infinite mercy.We celebrate their Feast day every year
November 1st—The Solemnity of All Saints!
6.THE SAINTS AND THEIR HELP TO US.The saints can help us in many ways. However,
two aspects of their presence can help us beyond measure. First, is their power
of intercession. The saints can intercede for us before the throne of God and
attain from God for us necessary graces to help us to avoid sin and practice virtue
so that we can arrive at where they are now—the Kingdom of Heaven, the House of
the Eternal Father.Second, the saints
leave us from their lives a powerful example that we are challenged to imitate
in our own lives.Holy examples have an appeal and attraction that
draws us almost like a magnetic pull!How often have saints been inspired by saints that lived before them to
follow on the demanding pathway of holiness???A perfect example is Saint Ignatius of Loyola who while recovering from
being shot in the legs by a cannon ball in the Battle of Pamplona started to
read the lives of the saints. He broke out in an enthusiastic cry:“If Francis can do it, so can I!”Then, “If Dominic can do it then so can I.”
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was inspired to become a great saint by reading of the
these holy men and women of God who lived before him.
Saint Ignatius reading the lives of the saints
7.READ THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS.Therefore, it can be an enormous stimulus
and motivation for all of us to read the lives of the saints. This will fuel
our engines and give us abundant food for thought on the path we must undertake
to arrive at heroic virtue and holiness and to become the saints that God is
calling us to be! Why not buy the life of a saint that appeals to you or a text
that has a short summary of various lives of the saints and read a few minutes
every night before retiring for the night!
8.QUALITIES OF SAINTS.When the Holy Father officially canonizes a
saint, after the required miracles after the saint has died (usually three) the
Pope is stating that this person practiced heroic virtue. Despite Original sin
and possibly a sinful past, the saint has decided to give up sin and fight
against it. But even more important the saint has decided, with the help of God’s
grace, to practice virtue, better yet heroic virtue. In concrete this means
that he practices virtue in his daily life constantly; not by fits and starts
or only when he feels like it. No!There
is a constant living out of heroic virtue, the practice of virtues that reflect
sanctity of life. What virtues you might ask?ALL!!!Faith, hope, love, patience,
purity, meekness, obedience, penance and mortification, fortitude, prayerfulness
and mercy, and many other virtues…
St. Philip Neri-- one of the most joyful saints!
9.JOY AND THE SAINTS.One of the most evident signs of the presence
of God in our lives is that of JOY!!!Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians exhorts us with these
words:“Rejoice in the Lord, I tell you
again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil 4:4) Saints are not sad-faced, morose,
pouty, bitter, or as Pope Francis says: “Funeral-faced” or “Cara de vinagre” (Vinegar
faced). On the contrary, the saints are filled with the Holy Spirit and are
overflowing and effusive of joy. Joy is one of the most clear and evident
fruits of the Holy Spirit active and operative in the lives of the saints.
10. OUR LADY: QUEEN OF ALL
THE SAINTS.Our Lady is the Queen of
all of the saints.Our Lady is the most
holy and the greatest of the saints. It is very difficult to find any saint
that did not have a tender, loving, fervent and ardent love and devotion to Our
Lady. Her prayers and example have motivated many men and women to pursue the
path of holiness. For that reason we call out:“Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our
death. Amen.”May Our Lady’s prayers
encourage you to become a great saint, starting right now!