Dear Friends in Christ,
At the end of the book The Woman who was Poor, the French writer Léon Bloy quips, “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” We just celebrated All Saints Day, and it’s one of my favorite solemnities throughout the liturgical year. We celebrate not just a specific saint, but all of the holy ones, the great cloud of witnesses, who show us that saints do not come from a cookie cutter mold, but instead come in all shapes and sizes. All Saints Day also reminds us that all Christians, all people are meant to be saints. The Second Vatican Council referred to this as the universal call to holiness. Holiness isn’t meant for just a few people; holiness is for everyone.
It would be easy to think that holiness isn’t possible or that holiness “isn’t for me,” yet the saints show us that God’s grace is able to transform even the worst sinners into the greatest saints. Wanting us to lead lives of holiness, God does not leave us to wander in a desert, trying on our own to figure out how to be holy. Rather, God calls us to a specific vocation, a specific calling through which we are healed, become holy, and become the people God has made us to be. God calls most people to become the “best version of themselves” through marriage, yet God calls certain men to become fully themselves through the priesthood, and other men and women are called to be holy through consecrated religious life.
This week is National Vocations Awareness Week, an opportunity to shed greater light on the various vocations, or callings, which bring people to holiness: priesthood, marriage, consecrated religious life, diaconate. Perhaps most vital to raising greater awareness of vocations is teaching young people and children to ask the right questions. Instead of asking about what is needed to make money, have a comfortable job, or be “successful,” maybe we need to teach young people to seek answers to the questions:
What will I need to do to become a saint?
What is God asking of me and inviting me to be?
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
The above questions remind us that the real goal has nothing to do with worldly success, but heavenly success and that not becoming a saint is the real tragedy in life. Let’s encourage young people and children to be open to whatever God may ask of them, for in living out a vocation we find the fulfillment of all desire. Let’s also pray, particularly before the Holy Eucharist and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that young men and women may say “yes” to God’s call for their lives. Lastly, may all of us, regardless of our age, resolve to become saints with the help of God’s grace.
Sincerely yours in Christ,