As we mark the Feast of All Saints’ Day we may tend to think about the “big name” saints like St. Joseph, St. Teresa [of whom we just noted the 500th anniversary of her birth!], St. Ignatius, St. Catherine McAuley, and so many others with the history and recognition as Saints. I love that this feast is an invitation to honor ALL saints – those known and those unknown! We can read the lives of known saints, whether they have the title or not, and recall our own experiences with the unknown saints in our midst, those who call us to holiness by their mere presence or a single encounter.
I think that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that sanctity is the same as divinity. Nothing could be further from the truth! I have been created as a human being; my call is to live as fully human as I can be – to be reconciled with my humanity in all of its limitations and frailties, joys and experiences. I am not called to be divine, perfect, or striving for either of those states of being (see Phil 2:6). So when I read the lives of the known Saints and encounter unknown saints, I am encountering real people, fully human, with the same graces and challenges that I have. These people are not superhuman, but rather, they have embraced their humanity and the grace that comes with living so truthfully.
The known Saints were not perfect (although some of the stories may lead us to think that they were, or at least pretty close!) and lately we’ve seen some controversy over certain people being presented for sainthood or actually being canonized because they were not perfect and might even be labeled as sinners! And yet, that is precisely why they can be raised up as models for all of us – they are us! There is nothing that prevents me from being a Saint! I am the only one preventing me from welcoming God’s action in my simple, human, life. “I am not holy (read: perfect, sin-less) enough for God to use; when I get my act together, then I’ll see what we can do.” God has made me; God knows all my beauty and my wounds – all of which can bring me and others closer to God.
Who are the unknown saints that I have met – those that witness God’s love to me, those that invite me to strive to be a better person and human, and those that bring out the best in me and challenge me to be that for others? Who are the Saints that model the action of God in fragile humanity for me? We are all called to be Saints – numbered among the known and unknown Saints of today’s feast – not tomorrow, not when I’m holy enough, not when I get my act together – today! Every day is a chance to allow the Spirit of God to work in my life, in my messy human life.
So let’s do this! Let’s be Saints and reveal God’s love in our world, in, for, and by being fully who we are called to be: human! Happy Feast Day to YOU!
Sr. Kelly Connors, pm, teaches Canon Law for Saint Joseph’s College.