The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites a wonderful liturgical notation in reference to the communion of saints: “Sancta sanctis! (“[God’s] Holy Gifts for [God’s] Holy People”) is proclaimed in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of Communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit and to communicate it to the world.”(CCC #948) This prayer certainly can serve as a reminder to all of us of the profound nature of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the extraordinary effect of God’s grace on the human soul in our interactions with one another in the world. We can thus recognize Christ in one another and act toward one another using virtue and holiness as motivating factors. This defines the Christian: one who sees with the eyes of Christ and acts accordingly. Holiness is communicated through our sacramental interaction with Christ and shared in our actions.
The true beauty of our faith inspires us to remember that we are all called to holiness through baptism and through the worthy reception of the sacraments. We are all called to be saints. It is difficult sometimes for us to recognize this fact.
We live in an age of secular relativism that tends so often to undermine the very basic human longing for God in our lives.
The 19th century English romantic poet William Wordsworth wrote a poem called “The World is Too Much With Us.” Sometimes I believe that this may very well be the case. We look to the “world” for a wisdom that it cannot provide in giving insight and light to the human soul and to human experience. These gifts come from God and from authentic faith and interaction with God in prayer and sacramental action.
Worldly power, influence, or domination, can lead us to dreadful abuses of our natural and supernatural gifts. The church observes and teaches that only in following the example of Christ can we live in this ever-changing world, enjoy its beauty and bounty, and pass into the fullness of life in the Kingdom for which God created us. It is possible and people are doing it in our midst. Hopefully, you are trying to live this way yourself. We are all called to be saints.
The Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Saints’ Causes has the particular responsibility for examining the lives and actions of those of us who have lived lives of heroic virtue and have been recommended for saintly canonization. Pope John Paul the Great probably made us more conscious of “saints among us” than anyone in recent history. From 1588 to 1978, there were 808 beatifications and 296 saints proclaimed. Pope John Paul II, however, approved 1,353 beatifications and 482 canonizations. The pope certainly had a way of looking at the world with a view for seeing and recognizing that people are still called to holiness.
The world in which we live with all its problems and contrary teachings still hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ and people recognize that they are truly called to be saints.
I often think about some of the people in my life – people whom I have met in my priestly ministry or co-workers in various church activities or just some of my friends. Do I think that they will ever be officially canonized by the church as saints? Well, I don’t necessarily think so. I do, however, find their lives filled with virtue and holiness. I do find them seriously living their baptismal priesthood in some difficult situations of life.
I am confident of God’s grace abounding in the church. While I know that my prayer book is filled with holy pictures of saints officially recognized by the church; my life experience continually reminds me that I have met and known saints in my life. God has not stopped calling us to holiness. The church has not stopped teaching the life of virtue that trumps the shallowness of selfishness. “You are God’s chosen ones, his saints: He loves you!”