We Are Called To Be Nothing Less Than Saints

The other day, when mom had EWTN on 24/7 to catch any news about the conclave I happened to walk by and a priest was giving a homily (or maybe just a talk).  In the few seconds that I was listening, I heard him say that "we are called to be nothing less than saints."  This line got me thinking about just how spectacular, magnificent, supernatural, the call to become a saint really is:

Jesus consistently gives us this heavenly, calling.  Matthew 5:12 - "Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven".  (better quotes later)

Paul greets the Christians in Rome (Romans 1:7): "To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" and again to the Corinthians (Corinthians 1:2):  "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

The catechism begins with this call: Prologue, Section 1, Paragraph 1: "God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life   For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man.  He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength ... In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life."

Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus gave a great synopsis of this call in his general audience on April 13, 2011: "What does it mean to be saints? Who is called to be a saint? Often it is thought that holiness is a goal reserved for a few chosen ones. St. Paul, however, speaks of God's great plan and affirms: "[God] chose us in him [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us" (Ephesians 1:4). And he speaks of all of us. At the center of the divine design is Christ, in whom God shows his Face: the Mystery hidden in the centuries has been revealed in the fullness of the Word made flesh. And Paul says afterward: "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" (Colossians 1:19). In Christ the living God has made himself close, visible, audible, tangible so that all can obtain his fullness of grace and truth (cf. John 1:14-16). Because of this, the whole of Christian existence knows only one supreme law, the one St. Paul expresses in a formula that appears in all his writings: in Christ Jesus. Holiness, the fullness of Christian life does not consist of realizing extraordinary enterprises, but in union with Christ, in living his mysteries, in making our own his attitudes, his thoughts, his conduct. The measure of holiness is given by the height of holiness that Christ attains in us, of how much, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, we mold all our life to his. It is our conforming ourselves to Jesus, as St. Paul affirms: "For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). And St. Augustine exclaimed: "My life will be alive full of You" (Confessions, 10, 28). In the Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council spoke with clarity of the universal call to holiness, affirming that no one is excluded: "The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one -- that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who ... follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory" (No. 41)."

We often overlook the profoundness of this call:  God is calling us and He created us from the very beginning, to live with Him forever.  Becoming a saint isn't just a goal, or reward, or nice thing that happens for those who are pious, holy, righteous, etc.; it is what we, every last human, are created to be.  Humanity fulfills it's highest purpose, not on this world, but in the next.  We aren't just called to be good, or nice, or happy, or anything (even if it's really good) at all that we can attain in this world.  Our call is literally supernatural; it's beyond us.  St. Augustine puts it well (in his often quoted saying): "My heart is restless until it finds its rest in You." [from memory], but it really summarizes the magnificence, spectacularity (is that a word?), and transcendence of this call.  We will only find perfect happiness with God, because He created us for Him.  

Of course, holiness isn't just for heaven; holiness is a journey that we must undertake on earth.  The point of this life is to get closer to God, to love Him more, to become more like Him.  Bishop Paprocki in his Holy Goals for Body & Soul says (page x): "The Bible teaches us that God alone is holy (1 Samuel 2:2; Revelation 15:4).  This is simply a way of saying that God is God and we are not.  But Scripture also says that God has called us to share his holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 15-16).  When we use the term holiness to describe a human being, we are saying that this person reflects God-like qualities ... "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

This call is not only universal (to all men), and supernatural (bigger than us), it is also just really, really awesome.  Think of the huge, immense, love that God must have for us to call us to live with Him forever.  He creates us, not as some sort of cool miniature world that he can enjoy watching or playing with, but out of perfect love.  We aren't just a top that God started spinning and now watches it wobble.  Our entire world has been created by God out of infinite generosity so that He can share his love and life with us.  Thank God for every minute you are alive; it's only out of His unfathomable love that we exist.  Even more than that, God was willing to become man, live on earth, and die for us, so that we could live with Him forever.  This is massive, astonishing, spectacular, beyond all use of even the greatest adjectives.  When we screwed up, "God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." (1 John 5:9)  

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal live.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17)