Great holiness achievable, just look to the saints as a model

      When I was in grade school, a teacher once explained the Comm of Saints like this. Picture, she said, being at a sporting event with hundreds of fans in the bleachers, each one cheering enthusiastically for their team. From a distance, what you hear is one huge, powerful roar of support. That, the teacher said, is how we should view the Comm of Saints. They are our biggest fans. They’ve been here, done that. They really, really want us to succeed as we travel down our paths to holiness. Their roar of approval and encouragement should life us up even in the darkest of time.

      They look forward to us to taking our saintly places along side of them; it starts with this life and moves us to an eternity with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      However, holiness – saintliness – can seem like a daunting task. Who, we might ask, could possibly be that good all the time?

      Well, here’s the thing. Many of them weren’t “good” all the time.

      Let’s start with St. Paul, a much honored and respected saint in our Church through the centuries. Before Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus, he was not a nice fellow, being responsibility for the death of many Christians at the time. Paul was struck blind on that road, only to have his eyes opened later, literally and/or figuratively, as he embraced the Lord Jesus.

      St. Olga of Kiev (10th century) was royalty in Kiev (now the Ukraine). When Olga’s husband was murdered, she exacted her revenge on his killers in the barbarous of ways: the ones she didn’t scald to death, she buried alive – by the thousands. Later in life she became a Christian and was then greatly responsible for the spread of the faith throughout her country, for which she was canonized as one of Russia’s first saints.

      Then there was St. Augustine. Much to his mother’s (St. Monica) dismay, when he was young he led a life of licentiousness and debauchery, even fathering a child out of wedlock. His mother’s constant prayers were eventually heard and he became a follower and great Christian leader of the Church. The Confessions of St. Augustine, arguably his most wide-read work – is an autobiographical account of his sinful past and how he came to know God.

      What do they have in common? They all succumbed and then overcame great sinfulness in their lives. What do they have in common with us? They, too, were human. They, too, have been there, done that.

      There’s a line from the first reading this weekend (Rv 7:2-4, 9-14) that reminds me of the Comm of Saints – saints past, present and those to come. It reminds me how we carry the same “seal on the foreheads of the holy servants of God.” How remarkable is that! Each of us has the potential to live extraordinary lives of holiness and become saints, as those who have come before us.

      Is it an easy road to walk? Heck, no! Can we do it? Sure we can. Consider the struggles of so many of our saints during their earthly life and how they overcame their temptations and rejected sin. They are our role models; they are our greatest supporters.

      We have it in us. Listen to St. John in the second reading of the day (1 Jn 3:1-3):

      “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”

      Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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