Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, such an extraordinary Holy Day in our Church! It is so special that we have a giant assembly of holy men and women who have been living examples of Christ’s love, and who reside in heaven and can intercede for us to our Father. As Catholics we are all called to be saints. We might not all become saints with a capital S, but we are all called to eternal life with our God, and we achieve that by becoming saints. Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey towards sainthood!
1. Befriend a Saint (or Saints)
“If you want to be a saint, find one and hang out with him.” –Peter Kreeft
Who better to help us on our journey towards sainthood than the Great Saints themselves? I must admit, I didn’t dig very deeply into the lives of the Saints until somewhat recently. I knew the common “big name” ones (St. Michael, Joan of Arc, etc.) but I never really focused on this piece of our faith. Boy, was I missing out! These holy men and women are the champions of our faith! They have immensely interesting and powerful stories and can teach us how to be better Catholics by their example. Not only that, they can intercede for us to our Father in heaven. I can’t think of a better kind of friend to have! There are over 10,000 Catholic Saints (with 5 more just added to the mix last month)! With a number that big, there is definitely one out there who will resonate with you. Find one (or more), and dig deeper into their stories. Pray to them and ask for their help in becoming more like them, and more like Christ. Ask them to help make you a saint! Having a Saint on your side is a pretty powerful thing.
2. Practice Gratitude.
“The great saint may be said to mix all his thoughts with thanks. All goods look better when they look like gifts.”
It is hard to live a holy life of love and sacrifice without recognizing how blessed we truly are. Make a point to be grateful for all God has given you. I recently had the privilege to attend an amazing Catholic women’s retreat led by Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT. Sister Miriam reminded us that gratitude is absolutely necessary in our daily lives as Catholics, that it is one of the most essential pieces to life in the Holy Spirit. She told us that at one point in her life when she was struggling, a priest and mentor suggested to her that she write down 5 things she was grateful for every night, without repeating anything for a month. Since the retreat, I have adopted this practice in my own gratitude prayer journal. It has made a big impact on the way I view my daily life. Once you get into the habit of searching for things to be grateful for, you begin to notice them as they are happening, instead of in hindsight. It is a beautiful thing to go through each day really living in the moment and filled with thoughts of thanksgiving to our God.
We also have to remember to be grateful for even those things that might not look like gifts- periods of hardship, waiting, suffering, and loss. Many of the great Saints endured major trials, but they were happy to endure all things for the greater glory of God. As Romans 8:28 reminds us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God is always for our good and worthy of our thanks, even when it might not look like that from our human perspective.
3. Go to Confession Regularly
“Every Catholic is one good Confession away from potential sainthood.” –Patrick Madrid
Just as we should always show God our gratitude for all the gifts He has given us, we must also continually seek his mercy for the times we fail to act as we should. We are imperfect humans and we will fail, God knows this and loves us anyway. He calls all of us despite our sins. Look at the great Saints – all were human, all were sinners (and some sinned in big ways) yet when they sought God’s mercy, He not only forgave them but gave them the grace to live truly holy lives. We can only live as true sons and daughters of Christ through his mercy, but we must ask for it and be willing to receive it. Confession is an amazing gift. It frees us from our sin and allows us to start anew in the eyes of our God. There is no sin that is too great for our God to forgive, He desires only that we ask for His mercy and seek to do better. When the burden of our sins is taken away, there is more room within us for Christ to fill with Himself, leading us ever closer to sainthood.
4. Consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary
“Those who have great devotion to Mary not only will be saved, but also will, through her intercession, become great Saints. Furthermore, their holiness will grow from day to day.”- Saint Vincent Pallotti
If you have never heard of Marian Consecration, I highly recommend doing your research! Father Michael Gaitley’s brief description in 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration reads “Jesus gave us one of His greatest gifts, His mother as our mother… In other words, just as it was once her task some 2,000 years ago to give birth to Christ, to feed and nurture him, and to help him grow and develop into a man, so also… Mary’s task is to give spiritual birth to Christians, to feed and nurture them with grace, and to help them grow to full stature in Christ. In short, Mary’s job is to help us grow in holiness. It’s her mission to form us into saints.” Many great Saints (including Saint John Paul the Great) site Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary as a major “turning point” in their lives, and it has been said to be “the surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means” to becoming a saint. If that’s not enough reason to look into it, I don’t know what is! There are a few formal ways to Marian Consecration, and the book I just mentioned is one I highly recommend (I am going through it now!). However, even if you don’t feel quite ready for a formal consecration, it is still important to work on developing a relationship with our Blessed Mother. She was born without sin, she does God’s will perfectly, and she desires to bring us all closer to her Son. A relationship with her is an integral piece in reaching sainthood.
5. Truly Desire to be a Saint
“If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be one.” –William Law
The only person really holding us back from being the person, and saint, God created us to be is ourselves. God is always waiting for us, He will never turn His back on us. It is up to us to choose a life in Christ instead of a life steeped in worldly things. Say yes to God’s call to sainthood in your life. Pray More. Go to Confession. Befriend the Saints. Develop a relationship with Mary. Receive the Eucharist regularly. Practice gratitude. Forgive others. Give selflessly in reflection of Christ’s love for us. These are only a few examples of ways we can strive for sainthood, but they are a good place to start. It takes real effort to be a saint, but the reward is truly great. Strive for it!
Check out the Pope’s six new Beatitudes for more ideas on how to strive for sainthood in the modern world!