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The word this week

‘What God wants most is that you should become holy’

The Solemnity of All Saints: Revelation 7:2-4 & 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

By on Wednesday, 27 October 2010

“There is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the 21st century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy.”

With these words Pope Benedict, speaking at Twickenham on September 17, invited our young people to sanctity. The feast of All Saints is both a celebration of the sanctity already achieved in the lives of so many, and also an invitation to grow in the holiness that the Holy Father proposed to our young people.

Pope Benedict continued to question our young people so as to clarify what sanctity might mean in their lives. He asked the young people, and through them ourselves, what kind of people they wanted to become. He went on to urge them to the virtue they most admired in their contemporaries. On this feast of All Saints let us have the courage to say that we want to become saints, that we want to live the life of Christ that has won for us in his death and resurrection.

The Book of Revelation, with its triumphant imagery of the saints gathered around the throne of the Lamb, is a road map for saints in the making. It was addressed to people like ourselves, those who struggled from day to day to live out Christ’s invitation to come follow him. Revelation’s vision, in all its magnificence, bids us raise our eyes above the ordinary and the everyday. The Christ who calls us to live our lives for him in daily life, calls us to be with him forever. Christ, the victorious Lamb, has already won the sanctity for which we long. Sanctity is not beyond our reach or beyond our strength. Through baptism Christ is already in our hearts and on our lips.

The First Letter of St John addressed the natural diffidence that might be felt in those called to become saints. His starting point was not the seemingly impossible demands that might transform the reluctant sinner into a saint. He began with what the Father has already achieved within us through our baptism, a grace that we frequently neglect in our striving for sanctity. “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children. My dear people, we are already the children of God.” We do not begin our journey into sanctity burdened by the sin and disappointment of the past. When we choose to turn to the Lord, we are already the children of God, well on the path to sanctity.

Pope Benedict reminded the young people at Twickenham that when they imitated the virtue of those they most admire they were already on the way. Christ proposed the same in the Sermon on the Mount. The timeless words of the Gospel speak so powerfully because they address something deep within us. We long to become the poor in Spirit, the gentle, the pure in heart, the peacemakers who hunger and thirst for what is right.

As we celebrate the saints who have gone before us let us also acknowledge the many hidden saints whose virtue has inspired us. Above all, let us acknowledge that the Father has numbered us among his children: saints in the making.

  • Mamasnookems

    What God wants us to be is a follower of His Son, Jesus Christ and know that He is His Son and that He died on the cross for us. Repent and believe!

  • Thinker

    Christian teaching is that when Christians repent, seek forgiveness and amend their lives, they can be in a “state of grace” and then not only become brothers of Christ, but sons of God and united in and with Christ and hence with God Himself. However, is this teaching erroneous? Doesn't it seek to elevate human beings to a level which is beyond the limits of mortals, even holy saints? Doesn't the teaching implicitly lead to a lessening of the worship of God, who, alone, as Christianity teaches, is “infinite in all perfections” because of the emphasis on elevating humanity, and which perhaps could, in fact, be regarded as a type of idol-worship, humans worshipping their united higher selves, which unavoidably must simultaneously reduce the concept of God. It might mean that Christianity is basically a version of humanism, in the sense of humanism being worship of human potential – except that Christianity is exclusive. (Christians might claim that Christianity is not exclusive, yet it was much later in the development of Christian thought that the idea that good-living non-believers could achieve salvation came to be expressed, in the doctrine of 'Baptism by Desire'. Prior to that, as we all know, there was persecution of non-believers). With regard to Heaven, also, Christianity seems to teach that humans will become one with God there. Yet, again, isn't that imagining that humans become merged in God, a theology which again, either reduces God's supremacy, or imagines that mortals can virtually attain the Divinity which is God's alone? Perhaps Christians should be less ambitious concerning what is attainable for humans, saints included, in heaven and on earth.


    I was hoping to get some feedback on my comment (below) but there is nothing.

  • 'Thinker'

    Please take my email address off the page. I signed as “Thinker”. My email address is confidential and I trusted that it would not be published. That trust has been breached.

    When I added a second comment (below) that I was hoping for some feedback, it was obvious that I meant

    by other commenters online, otherwise I would have included my email address within my comment.

    Please replace my email address with 'Thinker' next to my comments as it was until a few minutes ago

    when you blanked out 'Thinker' and put my email address, instead.

    Please send me an apology for that breach of trust.

  • The Catholic Herald

    We cannot see your email address on the page. If you can tell us where it is, we will remove it immediately.

  • 'Thinker'

    I am pleased to see that you have taken my email address off the page and replaced it with 'Thinker' -

    the same as it was originally.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for clarifying this and for raising the problem.