Since we are approaching the feast of the halloweds (the saints), I’ve been musing about sainthood. One of my favorite prayers as a teenager was, “O God Who art all powerful, make me a saint.” Some people exclaim, “I’m no saint,” yet we are all called to be saints. As French novelist Leon Bloy pointed out, “The only real failure in life is not to be a saint.” If we are not saints by the time we die, then we will have a miserable eternity. In view of our weakness, faults and temptations around us, being holy may appear farfetched, for some impossible! Keep in mind, though, that saints were sinners too—they had “tilted halos”— yet they loved God and others. The canonized saints are to serve as models for us, although the martyrs’ path to sanctity is not very appealing. The uncanonized saints, some of whom we rub shoulders with, may be easier to imitate.
Recently someone told me that he had a difficult time understanding how Mary could be sinless. Then he said he thought of one of our Sisters, someone so gentle and kind that he couldn’t imagine her ever committing a sin. There are plenty other people who radiate goodness. Our spiritual mother, St. Julie Billiart, was called the walking love of God. That is all God asks, that we love. What do people call you?
Some saints lived short lives, for example, St. Therese of Lisieux who only lived to be twenty-three. In some ways they had it easy. They didn’t suffer the many hardships of a long life, which includes losing people you love and enduring the aches and pains of old age. Some senior citizens are going through purgatory on earth! The key to sainthood is perseverance. We can’t give up being good, or at least striving for it. This calls to mind the quotation “A diamond is just a rock that did good under pressure.”
Some saints who prove that the good don’t always die young are St. Anthony of Egypt, who died at age 105, and St. Raymond Penyafort, who died at 100.
Which saint will you celebrate in particular on November 1? Why?