On this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. The first question that comes to mind is: Who are these “saints”? What makes a person a saint? Most Catholics would say that a saint is a person in heaven or a really holy person who lived a good life, worked hard to please God, did a lot of good things for others, prayed a lot and kept away from sin. We often think of the saints more for what they do rather than for who they are. When we think of being a saint we think of hard work. Most of us would consider being a saint as being out of our reach. We just couldn’t get it done here on earth but we do hope that by God’s mercy and grace that we might one day be with the real saints in heaven.
We don’t want to see being a saint as something that only happens after death and that there are only saints in heaven. Being a saint is really something that is meant for all of us. We are all called to be saints of God and it is God who does most of the work in and through us so it doesn’t necessarily have to be hard work. In our baptism we receive “sanctifying grace” which purifies us and prepares us for a life of holiness. It allows us to share in the divine life of God. God is holy and so we must also be holy in order to remain in communion with him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us this about sanctifying grace: “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification.” (CCC 1999) “Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love.” (CCC 2000) God gives this grace to all of us in baptism because he wants to live with us and to share his divine life with us so that we might know the fullness of life in his presence.
A saint is not so much what we do as it is who we are. God’s grace is a grace of adoption whereby we become the children of God. To be a saint is to live our life as a child of God and allow the gift of God’s grace and life to grow within us until we are fully formed into the image of God through his son Jesus Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit. St. John tells us, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.” (1Jn 3,1ff) The Catechism puts it this way, “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (CCC 1996) We are God’s children now through sanctifying grace and therefore we are called to be saints now. The Catechism also reminds us, “After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.” In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church.” (CCC 946)
What we need to “do” to be a saint is to “be” who we are, children of God and to live as God’s children in the communion of the saints in the Church. As we celebrate the communion of all saints on this Solemnity of All Saints we remember all those who through baptism share in the divine life with us. We also remember that through God’s love and grace we also are called to be saints and through the help and encouragement that we offer to one another we strive to live according to our high calling. Remember who you are and don’t sell yourself short. You too are called to be a saint and all you have to do is to cooperate with God’s grace that is at work in you preparing you for an eternal life of glory. God is doing the work, you just need to get out of his way and let the Spirit of God do his work in perfecting you.