I have met many ‘saints’ in my life, so many people who have inspired and encouraged me to live a good life. But this past while was an exciting time because seven people were declared officially ‘saints’ in our Church: a pope (St. Pope Pius VI), a teenager (Nunzio Sulprizio), two priests (Francesco Spinelli & Vincent Romano), two sisters, founders of two congregations, (Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa & Maria Katharina Kasper), and one archbishop martyr (Oscar Romero).
It is heartening to read about their lives. In many ways they were all ordinary, but each of them was also extraordinary. Each was particularly attentive to God working through them, calling them to be courageous, to pray, and to be entirely dedicated to serving others each in their own way.
Sometimes we can glorify the people called saints as if they were somehow perfect. None of them was perfect. But their effort to listen to God’s will for them and to do it was ‘heroic’. St. Augustine said that saints practice ‘heroic virtue’
What does that mean? It means saints in their words and deeds lived beyond others, that they demonstrated a lively faith, witnessed a fervent trust in God, and did remarkable works of charity. The highest work of love, of course, is to shed one’s blood for another, to be a martyr, a witness to Jesus love– like Archbishop Romero. (If you haven’t watched the film, “Romero”, put it on your bucket list.)
The truth is that each one of us is called to be a saint, to practice “heroic virtue” as so many of our brothers and sister are doing in our world today. (E.g. in Mexico twenty six priests have been assassinated since 2012!) And so we pray asking to see more clearly what God is calling us to in our own context and fervently begging for the courage to respond. If we listen carefully today perhaps we can hear those seven saints shouting to us, “get with it! God needs you.”