Essential Qualities of Sainthood

Today the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, a feast that was instituted to honor all the saints, known and unknown.

People have different understandings of what it means to call someone a saint. In his recent canonization of seven new Saints, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of some essential characteristics of sainthood, saying that each of the seven was evangelistic, each was holy, and each pursued lives of radical discipleship with a sensitivity to culture.

Evangelization. Holiness. Radical discipleship. It is what we are each called to as Christians. But our speech and actions do not always embody those qualities.

When I think of the saints who stand front and center when I visualize the Communion of Saints – people like John the Baptist, St. Vincent dePaul, St. Francis – I see the qualities Pope Benedict identified in the newly recognized saints. These women and men who came before us inspire me. They encourage me. They assure me by their lives and deaths that it is possible to live the life we were called to live.

On this All Saints Day, spend some time reflecting on the lives of the saints that have special meaning for you. What is it about them that keeps them close to their heart? What lesson do they teach about your own life?