The Universal Call to Holiness and Sainthood

As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, it’s important to reflect on the very fact that we are all called to live lives of holiness, just as the saints before us did. Today’s solemnity not only calls us to remember the canonized saints of the Church, but all those souls that have reach the Heavenly banquet and are in the presence of the Word Incarnate, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, we celebrate the Communion of Saints! The Communion of Saints are composed of us on Earth – the Saints Militant, those in Purgatory – the Saints Suffering, and the those in Heaven – the Saints Triumphant.

Every Christian is capable of becoming a saint. St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 – “you become imitators of us…you became a model for all believers.” The word saint comes from the Latin term, sanctus, which means holy. The process of becoming a saint and holy is known as sanctification. For all Christians, seeking sainthood is not an option, but an obligation! We are obligated to seek holiness and perfection. We may not attain it, but we must still try to reach it.

St. Paul

Our aim in life is to be holy in imitation of Jesus, who is all holy. He is our perfect model in all things, most especially in holiness. Again St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” The beautiful thing for each of us is that we have many great examples of holiness over the 2000-year history of the Catholic Church.

Holiness is an attribute of God that describes his complete separation of the profane. For us as human beings, holiness is looking and dedicating oneself to God. It’s being the best version we can be and living a life focused on God. The call to holiness comes from God for he is the source of all goodness. Being holy does not mean praying on your knees all day every day, its living our current lives for God and modeling our life after Jesus Christ and his Saints.

Mosaic Image of Jesus

So who is called to holiness in the Church and when are we called? All Christians are called to live lives of holiness. Our call to universal holiness begins at our Baptism, which gives us sanctifying grace, sharing in the life of God. Sanctifying grace assists us to share in the life of the Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

When we are baptized, we are claimed by God and become his adopted sons and daughters. We enter into a filial (sonship) relationship with God. It is through the Sacrament of Baptism that we again are “bought back” from the sin of our first parents – Adam and Eve, when they fell from original holiness (term coined by Blessed John Paul II) into original sin. In Baptism, we received the Three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

As noted above, God is the first to call us to holiness. All baptized people – laity, religious, and clergy, are called to universal holiness. As God’s chosen ones, people who strive to live lives of holiness, we must open our hearts to mercy, humility, kindness, meekness, and patience.

We will be recognized as followers of Jesus Christ when we align our wills with the will of God in both word and action; when we seek the will of God the Father in all things, this happens through a daily prayer life and having a good spiritual director/confessor; when we have a devotion to the glory of God; when we serve our neighbor before ourselves; and when we accept the crosses that are given to us by Jesus Christ. As Christians and followers of Christ, life will tough and suffering will occur, but we should offer up our suffering to save the souls of others. The greatest of the saints endured suffering as well. We should never get discouraged!

Bishop Thomas J. OlmstedMost Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, once said,

“Christ does not call us to be popular, or even successful. He calls us to take up the cross each day and follow him. There is only one ultimate failure in life: not to be a saint [italics mine]. Nothing else in life matters, compared to the treasure of Christ’s love.”

As we know, Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church with Saint Peter as the head. Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride. With this understanding, the Church heeding the call of Jesus Christ calls us to live lives of holiness.

Holy Eucharist in MonstranceThe three means of holiness and the saintly life are the Sacraments, Spiritual Direction, and Spiritual Reading.First, although all the Sacraments are channels of grace, it is through Reconciliation, which reconciles our relationship with God when the relationship is severed (i.e. mortal sin), but also helps us to overcome sinful inclinations and avoid future sins. The Holy Eucharist, the greatest of all the Sacraments and the “source and summit of the Christian faith” [Lumen Gentium #11] gives us our daily bread and strengthens us with the grace of the Word Made Flesh, in the Holy Mass and outside of Mass in Holy Adoration.

The sacrament of reconciliation

Second, spiritual direction, which can occur within or outside of Confession, overcomes the habits of sin. A good spiritual director can help us grow in our faith by praying with us, showing us ways to pray, and helping us to discern God’s will in our lives. A spiritual director is like a coach who is there to help us to improve our spirituality.

Third, spiritual reading encompasses reading the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, The Lives of the Saints, The Office of Readings, and other works written by the Saints and other Catholic authors that lead us to know God more in our spiritual life.

So as we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us remember our own sanctity and the obligation we all have to become saints. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.”

Communion of Saints Icon

All Holy Men and Women in Heaven…Pray For Us!

One thought on “The Universal Call to Holiness and Sainthood

  1. Thanks Tom for this wonderful teaching for “All Saints Day” So glad we know you and
    can keep tapping in on your gifts here. We especially are grateful for your new
    placement where you can continue to enthuse others with your joy of our holy faith
    and teach as you so well do and that God prepared you for.
    We continue to keep you in our “Magnificat’ for daily prayer. Roger and Susan Grahf

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