Sunday, October 30, 2011

(18) Called to Be Saints........Each One of Us

       Tomorrow is Halloween. It comes from the two words, “hallowed eve” or holy eve of All Saints Day on November 1, a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Unfortunately, the day has deviated from its original meaning and it has become spook night. Even the Satanists have tried to take it over and consider it their night for their festivities. A former student of mine stumbled on a Satan worship ritual one Halloween night and quickly got out of there. He said that “it was really scary”.
        Some people put out displays in front of their houses that rivals Christmas displays. One neighbor of ours had the works.......ghosts, witches, demons, graves, skeletons, etc. The owner happened to be there when I passed by and I remarked: Someday we'll be that way......skeletons in the grave. How true! Thus we should be ready when our time comes, i.e., preparing for eternity through out our pilgrimage on earth.  At Halloween parties in some Catholic circles kids dress as saints and have a good time doing it.
            The name given to us at Baptism and the one we choose at Confirmation should be a saint for us to emulate.  We celebrate a saint's feast day almost every day throughout the year.  But what about us?  Can we become saints?  Yes indeed!  In fact, you are called to be a saint......each one of us.  Anyone who makes it to heaven is a saint, most with a stopover in Purgatory.  We are called to be holy.

To enter heaven and stand in the presence of God, we must be holy.  The question is: Do we become holy here on earth or in Purgatory which is much more difficult and arduous.  We could be stuck there for decades if not centuries as we develop holiness.  The greatest torment is the intense longing for God.  Yet it’s a happy place because Heaven is only a matter of time.  The souls there don’t want to go to Heaven until they are ready with the proper wedding garment so to speak.  It’s much easier to become holy here.  Once we make it to heaven, we are saints.  Thus the song: “When the Saints Come Marching In”.  May we be among them some day.  May we become holy on earth so that we can have a direct flight to Heaven.  
        Canonized saints are persons of unusual holiness and heroic virtue, recognized by the Church as models to imitate.......a canonization is analogous to induction to a Hall of Fame after thorough investigation by a committee of scholars backed by at least two miracles authenticated by experts as beyond natural explanation, such as the sudden healing of an organ ravaged by cancer. All faiths have people who are looked up to as heroes and recognized for their unusual holiness and heroic virtue.
        How can you become a saint? None of us will be canonized, but we must all aspire to be saints in heaven. We must aspire to be holy. At the same time, we use the canonized saints as models to emulate. We may ask them to pray for us the same as I might ask you to pray for me. The saints show us that they did it and so can we. If we can imitate a virtue or two of a canonized saint even to a small degree, we are on our way to become a saint. Let us look at the common characteristics of canonized saints and use them as models to develop a virtue to a small degree at first and keep working on it.
Common Characteristics That Canonized Saints Have in Common
  1. They all loved God above all things. God was first in their lives over everything else.                 
  2. They all loved people since Christ is en each person......”Whatever you do to the least of mine, you do it unto me”. They served God by serving others either by charitable works or prayer.        
  3. They were all men and women of prayer, therefore close to God and united with Him.                
  4. They all had a complete trust in God, completely abandoning themselves to Providence.            
  5. They all sought the will of God in everything they did.......even in little things.                           
  6. They all had trials and suffered, all of which they united their crosses with the Lord's cross and offered them all up to God as a dynamic prayer for the Church, the Missions, for repentance, and a better world........often called Redemptive Suffering. 
  7. They all had a devotion to Mary, who nurtures the faith and brings us closer to her son. At the Cana wedding feast, Mary took the initiative to help the bride and groom when they ran out of wine. She told her son and said: “Do what He tells you”. This was Mary's first act of intercession. Today in the tradition of the Old Testament, the Queen Mother has a special place of influence in the heavenly court, from where she intercedes for us. Since Christ gave her to us from the cross as our mother, she nurtures our faith and brings us closer to her son. Thus we have the saying.......”To Jesus through Mary”.
  8. They all had heroic virtue.......Some virtues were more salient than others, depending upon the individual saints and his/her personality. They all exercised self-discipline to develop them.
  9. They all had unusual holiness closeness to God through prayer, loving Him intensely, knowing Him to the point of having a deep personal relationship with Him, serving Him with great dedication, and seeking to discern and do His will in every action.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  10. They all loved and regularly listened to or read the word of God, the Bible. For the first 16 centuries before the invention of the printing press, the Bible was copied by hand onto parchment, which made it prohibitively expensive and thus were chained to a table for security. Furthermore, until modern times most people did not read. If one attends Mass every Sunday for three years or daily Mass for two years, s/he will have covered the highlights of the entire Bible.
        Follow these points; practice them at least to a small degree, little by little, more and more every day, gradually developing each virtue. It's loving God and neighbor, serving them, the little things done well for the love of Christ, prayer, seeking and following His will that make us saints.

         As a postscript, let us see Bishop Robert Barron talk on saints.  Striking is his point is that the only real failure in life is not to become a saint.  We climb the ladder of success and discover that it's on the wrong wall.  Only saints can enter heaven.  We honor the saints and should try to emulate the saints.  He quotes St. Paul (Galatians 2:20).  "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me".  That is Christ dominated his life and should dominate ours.  See  We should strive not for wealth, pleasure, power, honor, but rather become saints while being detached from everything else.  That's what life is all about.  

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