We Are All Called to Be Saints

Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs by Fra Angelico, 1395-1455

Happy Feast Day!  Today we celebrate the saints, those heroic women and men, virtuous and undaunted, who have gone before us, giving us an example of what it means to follow Christ, and we are reminded that they have achieved the goal to which we all are called.  Through perseverance, faith, love, and grace, they have now arrived at full communion with God in heaven.

Though we may still be far from heaven, we can feel a closeness to the saints because we are all members of the same family.  This is why we feel comfortable invoking their names – Saints Therese, Anthony, Jude, and many more – and asking their intercession.  There are countless more who may not be officially canonized, but their names are known to God and they also pray for us.

Just as eternal life begins in baptism, so our fellowship with the holy ones in heaven begins by our membership in the Church on earth.  It is the same family bound together by one bond – the Holy Spirit – which finds its beginning here on earth and its culmination in glory.  Residing now in the communion of the One who is the fullness of Love, the saints bid us to follow them, to be holy ourselves, to be saints ourselves, not merely at the end of our earthly sojourn, but now, and they hold before them the Light of Christ to guide our way, praying that he send his grace to help us in that journey.

Is it any wonder, then, that we pray to those holy men and women for whom the battle is over and the triumph secure? First among these is Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and our mother, who with particular care responds to our needs and hears our cries for help. In a particular way, those of us who were given a saint’s name at baptism or confirmation find in that saint a personal patron upon whom we can call in our own particular needs.

The communion of saints is a reminder of our obligation to one another in the Church – other people are in need of our love and prayers.  We are called to allow God to enter into our hearts and sanctify us so that we might help build up this visible community of God’s people, as well as pray for the faithful departed who await the fullness of union with God.

Our faith in this communion of the holy is nothing less than our belief in the enduring power of God’s promise, the life-giving gift of the Holy Spirit, and the unity we all share. We are all in some way already joined to each other through the grace of God’s life within us – whether we are still struggling in this temporal order, enduring purification in anticipation of heaven, or already enjoying the glory of the vision of God.

Today’s celebration teaches us that the communion of saints is not limited to those in heaven.  Each member of the Church is called to be a saint during his or her own pilgrim journey on this earth.  No one says it is easy, but through faith, perseverance, prayer and love, by the grace of God, we can grow in holiness in our lives until that day we arrive at full communion with him and his love, able to stand before his throne of justice, interceding for others like the saints in heaven now do.