All Saints’ Day: A day to realize our call to be saints

My sisters and brothers, one of my more memorable experiences is of a young collegian I met over 10 years ago on a retreat for the Catholic Society at one of the liberal arts colleges in Michigan. I’ll never forget what she said. She approached me to walk with me and, in all seriousness, announced, “Monsignor, I want to become a saint!” Suddenly, it hit me that no one had ever verbalized this deeply held thought before. Here was a person who was serious about her life and her future. Here was a person who didn’t want to waste one minute of her time on things that would cast doubt on her noble purpose and mission. She knew it all depended upon her continued “Yes!” to God’s call.

For my part, too, I confess that I’ve not been perfect, but I, too, want to be a saint one day. I don’t expect anyone to remember my name 50 or 100 years from now. Very few, if any, would know that I lived contrary to what society tells me is for fame and fortune, but for the fulfilment of my life: to truly become the dream that God had for me. 

One author in the 18th century, Søren Kierkegaard, put it this way: “God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.” What a consolation that is! It certainly is for me! Pope Benedict remarked: “God saves us, not from our humanity, but through it.” Here is our call, here is our mission, which acknowledges not something that we aren’t, but something that we are and for which we are, through God’s grace, recipients of His immense mercy and love. Yes, it’s true every saint has a past – some of it known, some, if not a lot, is unknown. Every sinner, however, through the grace and mercy of God and the saving action of Christ, has an eternal future. This promise is testified to through the glorious and vast witness of saints, martyrs, evangelists, virgins, pastors, confessors – and, maybe one day, by the grace and mercy of God, you and me. “Lord, this is the people that longs to see Your face!” Amen!

Perhaps that is why we remember All Saints this day.