17 June 2009

Why the title "Acta Sanctorum"?

For several years the call to a third order religious vocation has been stirring in me. As I began a year, or so, ago truly working through prayer to discern that vocation, the lives of the Saints were continually being opened to me by others. With the materials available online, and the breviary supplements produced by the Franciscans, Dominicans, and other orders, it is amazing to me the plenitude of saints that are venerated by the faithful.

The people of God have an amazing assortment of models in faith to follow in their daily trials and struggles, blessings and graces, successes and achievements. Many of the saints were not perfect by any description. In fact, many of them led lives opposite to the Gospel of our Lord, but turned their lives to Our Lord and their loving devotion to God in such a complete way that we now profess their place in heaven with our Heavenly Father.

Yes, the saints struggled as we do. For example, Saint Augustine lived a life of all the world's pleasures, without hardly a thought for God before his conversion. In the saints we can see both an expression of what we are--sinners in the world, and an expression of what we can become. saints ourselves.

In fact let's look at how the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a saint: "The 'holy one' who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life. The Church is called the communion of saints, of the holy ones." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2d ed. (hereinafter CCC), glossary) Further, paragraph 823 of the Catechism provides: "The Church, then, is the 'holy people of God,' and her members are called 'saints.'" And, "[t]he communion of saints is the Church. (CCC, 946)

Thus, the Church is recognized as the communion of saints--the holy ones. Each of us is called to holiness. In fact each of us is called personally by Christ to live out, in devotion to Christ, the example of radical love that He gave the Church, His bride. Achieving that perfection though, through the graces that Our Lord provides, is beyond the mere abilities of anyone. But, we still are called to strive. In that effort, then, we are to give our best effort at achieving holiness--saintliness.

Each of us is called to be a saint. Indeed, the destiny that we were created for is to become a saint because we are each the loved creation of the Our Lord. So, acta sanctorum is not only a title, but is also a living description of we the faithful. It is a description of our striving each day to live holiness, failing, returning to God with contrite hearts, and trying again.

How many reading this blog will ever be canonized? I know that I will never be, wretched sinner that I am. For our lives today, however, striving to live in holiness, and in communion with others striving to live in holiness, is truly acta sanctorum.

And, who better to follow as examples of holiness and overcoming our faults and difficulties, but those who have come before us whom the Church has recognized as saints. Thus, it is important to keep in the front of our spiritual eyes these saints' examples. Acta sanctorum, in title and in action, is the faithful! We the Church!

1 comment:

  1. Count Leo Tolstoy is a good example of a sinner turned saint. I am reading his biography now, what growth, what awareness.