When someone thinks of the Catholic Church, they might see images of rosary beads, clasping around an old woman’s hands, as they do, or candles, and incense. But, our history of saints is, arguably, the most striking representation of the Church. The word, saint, derives from the Latin word, sanctus, meaning holy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a saint as, “a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord” (CCC 2156). Saints are literally holy people, virtuous in character and faith. In my generation, there is a misconception on who can become a saint.
Many young Catholics believe that sainthood can only be achieved by few people. The reality is, we are all called to sainthood, so where does this leave us? If we’re all called to become saints, then that would mean our lives should reflect as such. If we are to be true Christians, we should be leading lives that mimic Christ’s teachings. Look at St. Joan of Arc; she was was a courageous, young woman, who heard the voices of the three saints in heaven telling her to do God’s work, by helping the King of France reconquer his kingdom. When Joan would not renounce her claim that it was the saints of God telling her to do these tasks, she was burned at the stake. Joan is a perfect example of living a holy life.
Each canonized saint has a different story, and that is what makes sainthood beautiful. We all have different paths that lead to Christ. As the lively Mother Angelica has said, “ Where most men work on degrees after their name, we work for degrees before our names: ‘St.’ It’s a much more difficult degree to attain. It takes you a lifetime, and you don’t get your diploma until you’re dead.”
A saint is not measured by how many good works are done, but by how faithful a person is to Christ. A saint lives a life without fear, judgement, or persecution. What can we do to achieve God’s greatest calling? The answer is simple. Live a life according to Christ, filled with faith, hope, love, and charity. I encourage all Catholics to stop worrying about what other people think, or might think, and start living a holy life, dedicated to Christ, Our Lord.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. New York: Doubleday, 1995. 2156. Print.