Have you ever heard of St. Billy of Des Moines or St. Nikki of Long Island?
Probably not, since they’re not canonized or “known” saints of the Church… yet.
Did you know that you are called to become a saint? That’s right, God’s call for you – before husband or priest or wife or sister or doctor or engineer or lion tamer (that’d be cool) – is to become a saint. Declining Christ’s invitation to sainthood is life’s greatest daily tragedy.
“Me, a saint?!? Um, no,” you might think to yourself. “That’s for really holy people.”
You’re created and designed to become a saint; whether or not the Catholic Church ever canonizes you as a saint is a whole different thing. The fact that God wants you to live for Him, point others to Him, and be with Him forever in Heaven… that is a fact.
Many times, Catholics (young and old) will question why the saints are important or how they are still relevant in modern times. The saints are our older brothers and sisters in the faith. We can always learn from them, even long after their earthly deaths. As Christ’s disciples, we are his students and we can never lose our desire to learn more about Christ or how to love Him more fully.
Our family is a foundational source of learning for us. Our family aids in our character formation. As Catholics, we have a rich family history from which to draw, a long lineage of heroic figures capable of guiding us to deeper and deeper levels of holiness and sanctity. The saints’ example and their prayerful intercession for us are both gifts from God.
So, you might be asking yourself – what is a saint, exactly?
The word saint comes from the Latin word ‘sanctus’ which means holy or set apart. St. Paul first said it (Phil. 4:21) to mean all of the faithful early Christians. Our Church teaches that the saints occupy a hallowed (holy and special) place in Heaven. That place is in the presence of what’s called “the Beatific Vision” – it’s basically front row center in God’s Heavenly throne room.
The Church doesn’t say that every saint is named – far from it actually. The ones we officially call “saints” are joined by countless others who lived “saintly” lives but haven’t officially been investigated or titled “saints” by the Church. By best estimates, there are over 10,000 saints that are currently named – again, most saints are not named on earth but are known in Heaven.
In fact, there are living, breathing saints around you right now, and not just in the “Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta”-types that you see on television. There are saints in your own parish and neighborhood, very likely. Most of them will never enjoy the “title” on earth, but that’s okay since truly saintly people would never want the title anyway. I’ll admit in my pride, though, that a statue would be pretty cool. Which, again, is why I’m still so far from sainthood. D’oh!