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On our journey to sainthood

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.” -St Augustine of Hippo

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints; the day when we commemorate all the saints of the Church.

We live in a world in which secularism is becoming more and more prominent. If we love God, if we say that we are Jesus’ disciples, then we will follow in His footsteps. Get to know Him by serving Him—with love.

Our Scriptures clearly outline the kind of values and virtues that will help us to become more like our Lord if these underpin our lives.

In today’s gospel, Matthew 5:1–12, the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes provide us with guidelines as to how we can become more like Christ on our journey through life.

For example, we will be blessed if we hunger and thirst for what is right, if we are gentle, if we are merciful, if we are pure in heart, if we are peacemakers and so on.

Pope Francis sees this day as a holy occasion to increase our faith and hope. He has said that “The Solemnity of All Saints is ‘our’ feast: not because we are good, but because the holiness of God has touched our lives… Saints are not perfect models, but are people whose lives God has crossed.”

The saints above all are our brothers and sisters “who have welcomed the light of God into their hearts and have passed it on to the world, each one according to their own ‘tone’. They have fought to take away the stains and darkness of sin, so as to let the gentle light of God pass through. This is the purpose of life, even for us.”

The Holy Father says that like everyone, the saints “breathe the air polluted by the evil that’s in the world, but along the way they never lose sight of Jesus’ path, the one indicated in the beatitudes, which are like the map of Christian life.”

He says that the feast of All Saints is not celebrated only in honour of those who have reached the goal and attained Heaven. It is also for the many simple and hidden people whom we may know, and who, through everyday holiness, help God to carry the world forward.

During annual retreats at Holy Faith Convent, Couva, like other students, I would read books on the lives of saints, and would be so moved, that I wanted to go to Heaven and be a saint right away! However, I soon found out that living gospel values is not ‘a piece of cake’, as the saying goes.

St Teresa of Avila’s words are instructive: “We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.” Or, as St Thomas More said: “Tribulation is a gift from God—one that he especially gives His special friends.”

But let’s not be discouraged; let’s keep focused on our goal, journeying onwards; doing His will joyfully. As St Teresa of Avila said: “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!”

Asked how someone should become a saint, St John Henry Newman replied: “If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first – Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect…

There are no short ways to perfection, but there are sure ones…all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterwards also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still. If we fall from our Baptism, He calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfil our calling, He calls us on from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness.”

For him perfection does not mean “anything out of the way, or especially heroic” but, “that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent.”

Let’s live as people of the Beatitudes and transform society to reflect Gospel values—seeking to take others along with us on the way to sainthood.

Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery.
—Servant of God Dorothy Day
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee