| By Pete Burak

We are All Called to be Saints

"You are called to be a saint!"

From a very early age, I’ve heard this oft-mentioned refrain and felt both inspired and challenged by it. Inspired because I want to be holy, and I want to spend eternity with Jesus. Challenged because I would read the lives of these heroes and think, “I could never do that!” Just a few saints that come to mind paint a picture of supernatural obedience to the will of God combined with extraordinary acts of courage, faith and devotion: St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s deep contemplative encounters with Jesus, St. Francis Xavier baptizing thousands in the course of his missionary work, St. Teresa of Kolkata serving the poorest of the poor or St. Isaac Jogues continuing to evangelize native peoples even after getting fingers cut off.

Admiring, emulating and honoring these remarkable women and men of God is one of my favorite parts of being Catholic, but I regularly need to remind myself that I’m called to be “like” them, not to “be” them. Instead, we, as everyday, ordinary disciples, can and should examine the principles that guided them and then apply these to our lives. 

Here are a few examples and questions to consider.

  • Intimacy with God is nonnegotiable for living a saintly life, so are you spending time with Jesus every day?
  • Knowing and following God’s will is common to all the saints, so how do you listen to the voice of the Lord, and are you obeying him?
  • Radical self-denial and a willingness to make a loving self-gift to others form the foundations for all the saints’ external missions, so where are you called to serve and what are you called to give?
  • Deep and sincere repentance for sin and a firm conviction to avoid evil constitutes a component of each saint’s journey of holiness, so are you regularly examining your conscience and going to confession?

Those are just a few principles that are common to all the canonized saints. Actually, here’s one more: All the saints recognized their inability to make themselves holy or heroically fruitful. They were ordinary people with an extraordinary response to God’s invitation. They didn’t set out to become saints, but instead, they ever so humbly bowed before Jesus and actually gave him everything. We may never be formally recognized by the Church as a canonized saint, but each of us can strive to follow their example and one day hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant … enter into the joy of your master.” (Mt 25:21)

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.

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