Are You Making These Humongous
Mistakes about Saints?
from our Angel Messenger Creative Team
Why Are Saints, Saints?
Even if you don’t practice the Catholic religion, chances are you’ve heard about saints. And since Catholicism has strongly influenced Western culture, saints have come to have an established place in our society.
For example, every February, people celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, now simply referred to as Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday where we’re invited to show our love to others. And we usually do this with chocolates, flowers, and jewelry.
In March, St. Patrick’s Day calls for more boisterous parties and parades. And even Halloween, or Hallows Eve, was originally an evening to honor the dead, before everyone celebrated All Saints Day, on November 1st.
But what are saints? And who were they before they became the namesakes of commercialized holidays and popular figures?
What is a Saint?
Perhaps the best way to start out is to say what saints are not. They are not angels or gods. Instead, saints were people, who lived here on earth, just like you and me. Saints have to be Catholic, but they can come from all walks of life. Saints can be priests or nuns, married or single, old or young.
Technically, no one can be called a “saint” until they have ended their earthly life and moved onto Heaven.
But living a human life isn’t enough to be a saint. Otherwise, we’d all be saints, right? What makes a saint, a saint is that they lived an extraordinary and holy life, in accordance with God’s will and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
What Does It Mean to Live a Holy Life?
Saints are usually depicted with glowing halos, eyes uplifted to heaven, hands folded in prayer, and symbols to represent their spirituality. With images like this, it’s very easy to believe that holiness – when it comes to being a saint – means you have to look pious and pray all the time.
But nothing could be farther from the truth. This is not what it means to live a holy life and become a saint.
Saints started out their earthly life just like anybody else. And according to the Catholic Church, this means they were born with Original Sin and had to work to overcome their weaknesses and vices with the help and grace of God. Some were born into wealth, others into unfortunate situations. Some were kings and queens. Others were promiscuous or peasants.
Saints had to work hard to go from being an ordinary person to an extraordinary person. They had to discipline themselves to live as free from sin as they possibly could. They had to choose love and charity, instead of pride, envy, greed, and lust.
As anyone knows, it’s hard to not be selfish, prideful and envious. It’s hard to not get swept up in the secular and consumeristic world.
This is the same world that saints were born into. With incredible determination, as well as faith and trust in God, combined with lots of love, these ordinary men and women literally rose above and became extraordinary, holy individuals. Or, saints.
How Do Saints Become Saints?
Saints are men and women who have lived such a holy life that they now get to enjoy eternity in the presence of God. Therefore, we could safely say that everyone who makes it to heaven is a saint.
But why are there specific, recognizable saints in the Catholic Church?
Some individuals lead such holy lives that the Catholic Church decides that they can serve as beautiful examples for other Catholics who are also aspiring to holiness.
The Catholic Church doesn’t “make” saints. The truth is, saints make themselves, through their own faith and the grace of God.
Where does the Church come in?
The Church recognizes exemplary and inspiring men and women. And with a lengthy process called canonization, the Church examines the life of the individual, draws on testimonials and observes miraculous events. After careful consideration, the Church canonizes the individual, making them an official saint.
Once canonized, Catholic men and women (and anyone who feels drawn to them) can follow their example.
Popular Saints to Inspire and Uplift
The holiness and goodness of saints don’t end at their death. Instead, it is believed that when saints end their earthly life and join God in heaven, they’re even more powerful than when they were alive.
Here are 4 popular saints who continue to inspire others to overcome sin and become extraordinary.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was a simple French Carmelite nun, who died before the age of 25 in 1897. Her secret to holiness? Something called, “the little way”, but don’t be deceived by the simplicity of her secret. This young woman is now considered to be a Doctor of the Church, along with great philosophers and theologians.
“What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” – St. Therese
St. Francis of Assisi was an Italian youngster, living in the 12th century, who enjoyed a luxurious, pleasurable social life before he decided to renounce everything in order to rebuild the Church. He founded the Franciscan Order, where poverty, as well as a passionate love for all of God’s creation, can lead to joy.
“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” – St. Francis of Assisi
Pope St. John Paul II is a modern saint that we’re all familiar with. But what you may not know is that this Polish priest started out as an actor and playwright. His life and papacy were marked with extreme humility, incredible scholarship and an international outreach, visiting over 100 countries, and seeking to reconcile riffs between Catholic and Jewish establishments.
“Do not be afraid to take a chance on peace, to teach peace, to live peace…Peace will be the last word of history.” – Pope St. John Paul II
St. Teresa of Calcutta, or Mother Teresa, was born in Macedonia and started her missionary work as a teenager. She is famous for her order, the Missionaries of Charity, which serves the poorest of the poor. But what is not known is that underneath her blue and white sari, she lived most of her life feeling extreme isolation and uncertainty, yet she continued to live in hope and faith.
“If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
How Many Saints Are There?
It’s difficult to know how many saints there really are. For one thing, any man or woman who is in heaven is a saint. But there are likely millions of these saints, and there’s truly no way to count them all!
And when it comes to recognized and canonized saints, it’s also not easy to tally them up. That’s because the Catholic Church’s canonization process has grown and evolved over the centuries.
Different records and lists vary, but it’s safe to say there are approximately 1,000 canonized Catholic saints.
The beautiful thing about saints is that they sought God with fervent fire. This is what makes a saint, a saint. And they remind us that anyone can seek God and live a holy life no matter what your background, age, race, religion or personality.
Much Love & Angel Blessings,
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