Why You And I Aren’t Saints

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately, when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me, as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.
(St. Therèse of Lisieux)

On November 1st, and throughout the Month of November, the Catholic Church honors all the saints – our brothers and sisters who have traveled the road we now traverse and have finally received their reward in the Kingdom of Heaven. Devotion to the saints is one of the beautiful hallmarks of Catholic life. We love our saints, we turn to them for assistance, and we admire their example of holiness and courageous faith.
But when I think about the saints and study their lives, the question that comes quickly to mind is this: why can’t I be a saint? Why can’t I be holy like they were? In the quote mentioned above, St. Therèse, the Little Flower, says that while the saints are like majestic mountains, we’re just humble grains of sand. A great analogy!
Why can’t we be saints? It’s a good question, for after all, the saints were like us in many ways. They were imperfect men and women, all of whom had weaknesses and sins. No doubt they, too, stumbled and fell as they traveled the road of life.
And the saints had no secret weapons that helped them to be holy. Think about it – we have all of the spiritual resources they had. We have the Word of God, the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confession, the Ten Commandments, the teachings of the Church, the weapons of prayer and fasting, and the inspiration of other great Christians. Truly, God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” (Eph 1:3) So, why aren’t we saints?
Well, I think the answer is clear. The saints really wanted to be holy; they took it seriously and worked at it with every fiber of their being. We, on the other hand, tend to be casual in our desire for holiness. We think about it, I suppose, and we go through the motions. But in the end, we settle on a spiritual mediocrity that, we hope, will be enough to get us to heaven. I guess time will tell, and God will decide, whether or not we’ve done enough.
Something to think about: Do you want to be a saint? What are you doing to make it happen?