Accepting the invitation from God to be a saint
May 16, 2014
We don’t often hear, "When I grow up I want to be a saint."
That is a calling reserved for the special, a destiny designed for the great. It is something we might aspire to internally but not ever say aloud. It may sound vain and presumptuous. Yet, the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II has caused me to rethink this. It is not about being named a saint; it is about being who we were meant to be.
Archbishop George J. Lucas reminded us of this in his last Catholic Voice column: "We are all called to be saints, each one of us. Sainthood is not meant for a privileged few. It is offered to everyone who is baptized, and we are expected to take up the offer and live it, wherever we find ourselves."
He reiterated this to the students and staff of Roncalli Catholic High School during a Mass celebrating the canonization of John XXIII. These last months as the world anticipated April 27, 2014, this particular community had special cause to reflect on the idea of saint and their call to take up the offer. They were celebrating one of their own, someone whose photo, spirit and memory adorned their halls and charism.
Their school’s newly canonized namesake, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, is known for his heroic impact on our church, but was also described by Catholic News Service as "a plump … smiling Italian of peasant origins." This isn’t exactly the image we might expect of the extraordinary. Instead it is another reminder that he was an ordinary person, just like each of us. Yet, with extraordinary faith, he took up God’s offer, lived it, and miracles happened.
The 87 seniors graduating from Roncalli Catholic this May are launching their ordinary and extraordinary aspirations onto a new path and another chance to wrap them in sainthood. We, too, whether venturing on a new path or not, can renew our faith and commitment to be saints, signs to the world of God’s love and power.
Jesus tells us we can aspire to sainthood because of God’s mercy. Our human weakness can be forgiven, affording us a clean and holy beginning every day. On Divine Mercy Sunday, the same day we honored our newest saints, we heard about God’s love, mercy and call to the apostles, the same call heard by Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli and Karol Jozef Wojtyla.
It is most certain that Ss. John Paul and John were sinners, too. But they called on God’s mercy and accepted the invitation to be disciples of Jesus, placing them on the path to sainthood. Their lives inspired individuals and the church. And miracles happened.
We may not know what miracles happen as a result of our lives lived in Christ. We may not know who is touched, transformed, healed because we too took up the offer of sainthood and lived it wherever we found ourselves. Yet, whether we are high school students or long-ago graduates, may we daily accept the invitation.
Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.