The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls defy our mistaken belief that sanctity is beyond us. St. Therese of Lisieux reminds us that sanctity is beyond us only if we allow it to be. Most people think of saints as holy super heroes with powers beyond those of mere mortals. Under this view, thinking that one can become a saint is about as naïvely foolish as pretending that one can become a grand pianist while poking at two keys in our first lesson at age eighty.
Why do we so often sell ourselves short when it comes to striving for sanctity?
For one thing, many define a saint as someone who performs extraordinary things in incredible ways, such as working miracles or practicing extreme penances and sacrifices. Certainly, there are saints who have done this, but they are the more famous saints and not representative of the vast majority.
St. Therese of Lisieux reminds us that becoming a saint is no more than seeking to please God by doing the ordinary extraordinarily well. Fame and public relations have nothing to do with sanctity. St. Therese is famous now, but she was a virtually unknown, cloistered Carmelite during her life. One must only seek to please God over seeking fame, fortune, or self-benefit.
The saint is one wrapped in God, in love, and in service. If we always put God first, others second, and ourselves last, we will be on the way to sanctity.
We grow in sanctity by merely striving for sanctity, and we must never feel that we are holy enough for God. The saint is not complacent because there is always more to do for God.
Another reason that many ignore or surrender their calling to be saints is that it is much easier to pretend that sanctity is impossible than to admit that it is very possible. There is no criticism of the grade school student who fails a bar exam because nobody expects such a student to pass it. Likewise, the very young and inexperienced skater who fails to medal in a competition is not rebuked because nobody expects her to be ready to medal anyway.
Still others argue that they are not called to be saints because of this or that reason. Such people forget that saints come in all shapes, colors, backgrounds, talents, and types. In fact, we need diverse saints because people and the Church have diverse needs.
I once read that inventions are merely creative ways to solve problems and answer needs. We are each a unique, beautiful invention of God. Each of us is blessed with special gifts and talents waiting to be used in His service. God invites each of us to fulfill that purpose and that potential to be saints. Our mistaken notion that saints are superheroes beyond our abilities prevents us from daring to believe that we too can become saints.
Armed with God’s love and mercy and dressed in our faith, each of us is a saint waiting to happen. The question is not if we can become saints. Rather, the issue is will we accept Our Lord’s standing, loving invitation to serve Him and love others with the very tools He has provided.
Gabriel Garnica, 2016