How to BE a saint

When we think of the word “saint,” we tend to regard it as an overzealous adjective used to describe those who have gone above and beyond the norms of charitable action. In comparison to the rest of the world, we separate the Mother Teresa’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s for their seemingly “impossible” leaps of good faith, then mention the respectful descriptor word of “saint” when they come up in conversation.

The use of this word comes with an automatic reflection within us that forces us to compare our lives to theirs. It is normally at this point that we experience a wave of guilt for filling our hearts with our personal desires as opposed to allowing God to fill us up with His love. This guilt is the first step towards sanctity.

The second step is how we react to this guilt. Some ignore it. Others accept mediocrity. But some people find wisdom in their newly acquired humility and respond to God’s call in fervent prayer, constant reflection, and, if they have the resources to do so, avid research towards understanding the truth. When these people receive enough grace, they become filled with holiness through their faithful action. They become “saints.”

Dr. Scott Hahn, one of the most respected Biblical Scholars of our time, reiterates this idea in his book, Reasons to Believe. He writes:

“Christ is indeed the one mediator; but the saints share His mediation because they share His life. Now, remember what the New Testament authors mean when they speak of “saints.” They mean the “holy ones,” those who have been sanctified by baptism; and that includes the faithful on earth as well as in heaven. All the faithful are “in Christ,” to use Paul’s favorite phrase. Whether in heaven or on earth, the saints can intercede for others precisely because they share the life of this one mediator and He lives in them. Jesus said: ‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified.’” (Jn 15: 7-8) (99)

To briefly summarize Dr. Hahn’s words, we are saints because we are baptized. We are saints because we are “in Christ” and He is in us. Finally, we will continue to be Saints even when we die, because “not even death or life… can separate us from Him who loves us.” (Rom. 8: 38-39)

May the following words from our celestial brothers and sisters encourage us to be continually “filled to the brim with Him”:

“Make no distinction at all between the work of your state and the work of your salvation and perfection. You can be sure that you will never achieve your salvation more certainly and acquire greater perfection than by fulfilling well the duties of your state, provided that you do so in view of the will of God.”  ~St. John Baptist De La Salle

“Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well.” –St. Anthony Mary Claret

“What is nobler than to mold the character of the young? I consider that he who knows how to form the youthful mind is truly greater than all painters, sculptors and all others of that sort” ~St. John Chrysostom

“True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile” ~Blessed Mother Teresa

“Sanctity is easy. God does not scare us away. You do not have to scourge yourself or fast or pray long hours. Just do your duty in school, at home, at work. Take sufferings as they come—bad weather, disappointments, physical illness, sorrow; that will make you saints.” ~St. John Bosco

“Holiness does not demand anything great, beyond the ability of the person. It depends on God’s Love; every daily act can be transformed into an act of love. ” ~ St. Ursula Julia Ledochowska

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” ~St. Catherine of Sienna

“There is no surer way to know that one is a saint than to see him lead a holy life and yet suffer desolation, trials and tribulations.” –St. Louis Gonzaga

“We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. I will be a saint means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God.” –Blessed Mother Teresa

“Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace.” –St. Augustine

“God’s invitation to become saints is for all, not just a few. Sanctity therefore must be accessible to all. In what does it consist? In a lot of activity? No. In doing extraordinary things? No, this could not be for everybody and at all times. Therefore, sanctity consists in doing good, and in doing this good in whatever condition and place God has placed us. Nothing more, nothing outside of this.” -Blessed Louis Tezza

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” –St. Francis of Assisi

“All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.” –St. Francis de Sales

”The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.” –St. Alphonsus Liguori

“I will always look upon the work of my salvation, and the foundation and government of our community, as the work of God; hence I will abandon the care of both to him, acting only through his orders;… I will often consider myself as an instrument which is of no use except in the hands of the workman. Hence I must await the orders of Providence before acting, and be careful to accomplish them when known.” ~St. John Baptist De La Salle

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Those Silly Saints

We Catholics put our Saints on top of a pillar of holiness. But did you know that St. Simeon Stylite lived on top of a pillar to achieve holiness… for 37 years!

The Saints were so human.  They’re also funny and quite entertaining. The book Saint-Watching by Phylis McGinley is a compilation of stories that range from the hysterical to the downright weird of those canonized brothers and sisters of ours.

Here are a few sneak peeks:

St. Christina the Astonishing hated the smell of unwashed flesh. So, when the poor and needy came to honor her during her funeral, her coffin rose to the ceiling to get away from their dirty stench. Being the obedient Nun that she was, she (and her coffin) came back down at the scoffing of the priest doing the service.

St. Bridget could make hens lay eggs on command for visitors. She could also make trees shake their fruit to the ground.

St. Ignatius (who apparently was quite the pool shark) was robbed (not playing pool). Two weeks later, he had heard that his thief had gotten sick. So, he traveled 100 miles on foot to take care of him.

St. Mary Mazzarello, after receiving her last rights, said, “Well that’s my passport. I expect I can leave now!?”

St. Charles Borromeo was apparently a chess whiz. So much that he was once quoted saying, “If the end of the world came, I’d keep playing chess.”

Last but not least, St. John Bosco was commonly thought to be crazy by his co-clergy. When they came to take him to the asylum, he cordially allowed these fellow priests to enter the carriage first. Once they were in, he slapped the horse and yelled “To the asylum!” Since the men at the asylum were awaiting a “crazy man,” they were not surprised to see two that claimed they weren’t John Bosco.

Want more? By the book at ebay or Amazon for a buck and enjoy the softer side of the Saints.

Phyllis McGinley
Hardcover: 243 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; Second printing before publication. edition (August 18, 1969)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670167754
ISBN-13: 978-0670167753

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!