“Sainthood is the call of all,” Father Brandon said in his homily.
Then he went on to tell a humorous story from his childhood – when his mother, frustrated at his youthful inaction in preparing to head off to school, cajoled him: “You can be a saint. It’s too late for me. But you, someday, can be a saint!”
And isn’t that just the way, when we consider the prospect of personal holiness? We can easily see the grace present in another’s life…but oftentimes the flame seems to be flickering on life-support in our own.
Which may be why the Church gives us great feast days like All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2). They are days to remember – and give thanks for – the holy people in our lives. To recognize the God-spark we saw at work in each of them…and to affirm that their personal peccadillos did nothing to dim their witness of God’s great love and mercy, present in our world.
Some years ago, I started assembling a little desktop shrine to honor a few of the saints I’ve known in my life. What strikes me today, when I look at the display, is that not a single one of these “blesseds” was perfect. Yet I remain convinced of their holiness, because each and every one of them found a way to show me the face of God.
These “blesseds” are my contemporaries, but such people – all the saints – have been part of the life of the Church from the very beginning. Saint Paul makes that much clear in his letter to the Romans, where he sets out some basic instructions on living out “holiness”.
Paul’s list can be exhausting, if I use it only to measure where I personally come up short. But it’s positively exhilarating if it becomes the lens through which I gaze upon the merits of my many “blesseds”. Why? Because I can trace a face (or two or three) to every single one of Paul’s 16 exhortations – and perhaps you can, too:
Let love be genuine.
Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with mutual affection.
Out-do one another in showing honor.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit – serve the Lord!
Rejoice in hope.
Be patient in suffering.
Persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the [community].
Extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless them, and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Do not claim to be wiser than you are.
That’s something to celebrate, wouldn’t you say? So thank you, God, for giving us all the saints!
PS: If you’re interested, here’s a link to the entire homily Father Brandon Paluch SM preached on All Saints Day.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.