We Are Saints
Guest Editorial by Michael Shackleton
Celebrating the memory of the great saints of the Church is an annual time to be happy, as it is on All Saints Day, which in South Africa is transferred this year to November 3.
We may be tempted occasionally to believe that we have no hope of ever being as holy and heroic as the exemplary men and women whose names adorn our liturgical calendar. But there is much reason to be happy.
The feast of All Saints should set us thinking that there is indeed a solid hope for all of us to be saints.
In his letters, St Paul frequently referred to his Christian converts as saints, for instance when he writes of taking a gift of money “to the saints in Jerusalem” (Rm 15:27). In Pauline terms we are filled with the Spirit of God and consequently we are holy because our destiny is the kingdom of God.We are saints, and we easily forget this.
We are saints, and we easily forget this.
We and our family members, indeed our fellow parishioners, live hidden lives in comparison with the high-profile martyrs, confessors and outstanding teachers who have been assigned their own special liturgical celebrations through canonical recognition of their sainthood, and even sometimes have risen to becoming posthumous national and international celebrities.
It is Christians such as us whom Jesus referred to when he taught the eight Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-10). There are many with whom we rub shoulders who, in their own quiet way, are poor in spirit, gentle, in mourning, hungry for justice, merciful, peacemakers, pure in heart and persecuted.
Jesus promised that these unnoticed and nameless souls would be magnificently compensated. They would be comforted, satisfied, inherit the earth, enter the heavenly kingdom and see God himself. And their reward is identical to that given to the Church’s celebrated saints.
The Church canonises individuals like us, not superhuman heroes. On this All Saints Day we must know that because the Holy Spirit breathes the life of divine grace into all the baptised, many exemplary members of our own families are probably already living by the norms of the Beatitudes.
In their seemingly unexceptional way they can be called happy, blessed and close to their Lord.
We cannot lose hope on account of the blatant and ongoing public scandals in the institutional Church. The Church remains holy in its devout and faithful members.Today should also jolt the lax and lazy among us into remembering that if we feel unholy, Christ is ready to enrich us with his love and forgiveness.
In honouring its great saints and praising God for their lives of virtue, the Church today asks for their prayers for us to remain loyal to the lessons in the texts and inspiration of the New Testament.
We must also be happy that the Spirit gives us the opportunity to emulate the canonised and uncanonised saints whom we have learned to admire: “The Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to him” (Rm 8:9).
Today should also jolt the lax and lazy among us into remembering that if we feel unholy, Christ is ready to enrich us with his love and forgiveness.
Receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is something the saints do. They too have failed at times but have never let go of the love of Christ in himself and in his members.
This is why theirs is the kingdom of heaven.