Is it just my impression, or has this year seen an upsurge in the number of people seeking to tell the Pope who can, and cannot, be a saint? The list of those people object to is long: John Paul II (because he didn’t do enough about the sex abuse scandal), Pius XII (because he didn’t do enough about the Nazis), Mother Teresa of Calcutta (because she accepted money from sinners), Newman and various of the English martyrs (because it might upset someone), St Thomas More (because he pursued those who were trying to smuggle the Wycliffe bible into England).
And nearly all of the commentors miss the point – because they don’t understand what a saint is. They think that a saint is someone who has overcome their sinfulness and who always does the right thing.
Not in this lifetime, sunshine!
I found this great article that outlines what a saint is… republished from the National Catholic Register. It says, in part:
Saints are not freaks or exceptions. They are the standard operating model for human beings. In fact, in the biblical sense of the word, all believers are saints. “Sanctity” means holiness. All men, women and children, born or unborn, beautiful or ugly, straight or gay, are holy, for they bear the image of God.
Saints are not the opposite of sinners. There are no opposites of sinners in this world. There are only saved sinners and unsaved sinners. Thus holy does not mean “sinless” but “set-apart:” called out of the world to the destiny of eternal ecstasy with God. ..
We become saints not by thinking about it, and not (certainly) by writing about it, but simply by doing it. There comes a time when the “how?” question stops and we just do it. If the one we love were at our door knocking to come in, would we wonder how the door lock works, and how we could move our muscles to open it?
Francis of Assisi once told his monks that if they were in the midst of the Beatific Vision and a tramp knocked at their door asking for a cup of cold water, turning away from the heavenly vision to help the tramp would be the real heaven, and turning away from the tramp to keep the blissful vision would be turning from God’s face.
A saint is one who sees who the tramp is: Jesus.
I’ve given you the beginning and the end – for the middle, see here.