When we think of saints, we often think of holy priests and nuns who kneel in church all day. Therefore, when we hear popes talk about the “universal call to holiness,” we immediately say to ourselves, “I could never become a saint. Only priests and nuns become saints.”
The Church, especially Pope Francis, would beg to differ. The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium explains, “all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity…They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.” (LG, 40, emphasis added)
Pope Francis has said before, “Every state of life leads to holiness, always! At home, on the streets, at work, at church, in the moment and with the state of life that you have, a door is opened on the road to sainthood. Do not be discouraged to travel this road. God gives you the grace to do so. And this is all that the Lord asks, is that we are in communion with Him and serve others.”
This Pope Francis has reiterated with his recent apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.”
But how can we become saints? It seems like an impossible task!
Pope Francis has some great advice: “First, we must bear in mind that holiness is not something that we can procure for ourselves or obtain with our quality and our skills. Holiness is gifted to us by the Lord Jesus, when He takes us up with Him and clothes us in Himself, making us like Him.” Holiness is a gift from God and if we aspire to become a saint, ask God for help!
Second of all, Pope Francis says, “it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints. And everyone in the particular condition and state of life in which they find themselves. Are you consecrated? Be holy living your gift and your ministry with joy. Are you married? Be holy loving and taking care of your husband or your wife, as Christ did with the Church. Are you a baptized person who is not married? Be holy performing your work with honesty and competence and giving time to the service of others.”
Some may still protest saying, “‘But, father, I work in a factory … I work as an accountant, always with the numbers, I cannot be a saint there…’ – ‘Yes, you can! There, where you work you can become a saint. God gives you the grace to become a saint. God communicates with you.’ Always and everywhere you can become a saint, that is, by being receptive to the grace that is working in us and leads us to holiness.”
It doesn’t matter if you work, are unemployed, retired, single, married or a teenager, we can all become saints!
Let us all implore God to grant us the grace to become a saint in our circumstances of life and to be a beacon of God’s love to humanity. If we devote ourselves to prayer each day, unite ourselves to the Way of the Heart, and live a life of charity, we are well on our way to sanctity.