Popular musician and worship leader Steve Angrisano often poses this question, his “pop quiz,” to his young audiences: How many believe you will be a saint one day? When very few in the audience raise their hands, Angrisano goes on to give his view of sainthood, and more to the point, the purpose of Christian faith. The definition of a saint, he explains, is just a person in heaven. How many of us believe we will be in heaven one day? How many of us use that goal as a guide for daily living? Sometimes I find it difficult to equate my ordinary daily living with such lofty ends. Am I worthy?
The Scripture readings for the Feast of All Saints describe the rewards of eternal life for those who are worthy. In Revelation 7, we hear of the great multitudes worshiping before the throne of God in robes washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Later, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shares the Beatitudes and speaks of the many blessings bestowed on those who are meek, merciful, pure in heart, and hungry for righteousness. And though I do indeed long to be the kind of person who receives these rewards, I’m still not certain my ordinary struggles with human living equate me with those we celebrate on November 1.
What do these readings and this Feast of All Saints have to say to ordinary seekers like me? What do I have in common with all those holy men and women listed in the canon of saints? Sainthood is for everyone who wants to do the right thing but faces the struggles and temptations of earthly life every day. This feast reminds me of—and affirms—my desire to share eternal life in the presence of my divine Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier with all the holy ones who have gone before me. I know I will require purification through the blood of the Lamb. Yet I also know that it is my desire for holiness that keeps me headed in the right direction even when I am distracted and veer off course.
Sainthood requires something of me as well. I must make a conscious effort every day to be the kind of person worthy of God’s blessing. Starting my day with the Lord through the daily Scripture readings or reflecting with a 3-Minute Retreat helps me focus on who I want to be each day. Praying the Ignatian Examen at the end of the day gives me an opportunity to review where I tend to get sidetracked. Celebrating the sacraments, seeking spiritual companionship, and taking advantage of opportunities to grow in faith are some of the many ways I can continue to be the person God created me to be. In order to achieve my spiritual goals, I require the blessings that come with nurturing my spiritual life, practicing virtuous living, seeking forgiveness, and praising God continuously for the many gifts I have already received. It is in these ordinary human ways I continue on the path so many before me have journeyed.
Steve Angrisano concludes with this point: When you die, there are only two options, so you should choose Option A, Saint!
Do you believe you will be a saint one day? What are you doing today to remain on the path seeking sainthood?