One of the finest corporal and mystical moments on earth, throughout the history of mankind, has been the conception of a human life in the womb of a woman. This moment is by all means the dawn of the incarnation of God’s impeccable will in that human soul’s life. It is mystical because it is only God who knows all about the mystical initiation of the human soul within the life form. Due to the ingenious of divine creativity and complexity, the womb of the mother can certainly be considered as the first environment for a human life to experience saintly virtues. Such virtues which the pregnant mother is most expected to manifest them towards the child in her precious womb. The interesting fact at this point in time is that whether or not the mother has conceived the child by her consent, or whether or not the child in the womb is the fruit of the sanctity of marriage, the mother is given an abundance of grace by God to care, nourish, protect, love and sustain this helpless form of human life in her womb. What is expected of the woman is to willingly and joyfully cooperate with that Divine and exclusive grace that calls for her to be an embodiment of saintly virtues of being courageous, kind, reverential, wise, sacrificing, charitable and above all, God fearing, in being the instrument of fulfilling God’s Omniscient plan for that soul, which He fearfully and loving created, and chose to bless it with the shelter of that mother’s womb. This is how a human person, each one of us, experiences the call to Sainthood, from the very moment of our conception.
The Angel of God Almighty, Gabriel, appeared and announced glad tidings (Luke 1:26-39) from the ‘author of life’ (Genesis 2:7), to the humble and God-fearing Jewish virgin maiden called Mary in Nazareth, the daughter of Joachim and Anne, betrothed to a virtuous and righteous Jewish carpenter called Joseph. Upon receiving divine revelation of becoming the Mediatrix (Luke 1:38) chosen by God to be the instrument of His merciful grace to all mankind, Mary (the woman predestined by God, even before the continuation of the human race, to be the mother of His Son) was courageous to ask the angel of God, “how can this be, since I am a virgin?” This is manifestation of courageous conversation with the divine realm is an outstanding example of how person is called to dialogue with God to understand the call to holiness and obedience to Divine will. What is this if it is not a virtue of a saint? Mary’s ancestors were testimony to such courage for conversing with God, to understand (if possible) and (or) simply obey. Think about the courage of Abraham when he asked God, “shall a child be born unto him…? (Genesis 17:17)”. Moses said to God, “who am I, that I should go…? (Exodus 3:11)”. Jacob wrestled with the angel of God until the divine power obliged to bless him (Genesis 32:24).
Courage is an integral virtue to live joyfully as saint. God, through his loving kindness, grants the grace to be courageous to the simple and the meek, and through their willing cooperation with that grace; fulfills His extraordinary plans, as well as establishes the continuity of His covenant of love and mercy for all. Odoardo Focherini (1907-1944) from Carpi in Italy was an insurance agent, journalist and father of seven children. With the support from his wife and guidance from Cardinal Pietro Boetto of Genoa, he established a rescue network that transported 100 Jews to safety into Switzerland. This hero of God, exemplary Catholic of this century, was arrested and martyred in a concentration camp in Hersbruk, Germany. His last words were, “I declare I am dying in the purest apostolic Roman Catholic faith and in full submission to the will of God, offering my life as holocaust for my diocese, for Catholic Action, for the pope, and for the return of peace to this world.”
Faith and holiness makes a person partaking in the everlasting banquet of love and joy. Saints are beaming instruments of faith. They are like trumpets that the angles play to reverberate God’s glory, authority, fidelity, love and mercy. In the tender age of thirteen, Agnes a Roman girl suffered martyrdom for her impeccable and undeterred love and faithfulness to Christ Jesus. St. Agnes was endowed with scintillating beauty and so many young men queued to marry her. But she kept saying “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!” The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. “I would offend my Spouse,” she said, “if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.
Pope Francis, calls the bride of Christ; the Holy Catholic Church, to be a ‘field hospital’. In this world of battlefield Catholicism, men and women of all ages are both ignorant, deprived or rejecting divine love and mercy. Pope St. John Paul II by his saintly testimony of life empowered the world with his words, “Do not be afraid”. Today, God calls each one of us to be His saint. He calls us to be truthful when we smile at a neighbor / stranger, forgive and reconcile with family / acquaintance, share or lend, wish / pray for well being. He calls us to be faithful and bravely rise of being His testimony and voice for the poor and marginalized as well as bearers of the sanctity of sacraments. He demands of us to be instruments of wisdom to the young, humbleness and kindness to the old.
Whether we are poor or rich, powerful or meek, intellectual or ignorant, beautiful or less endowed, whether we are famous or not yet to be discovered, whether we are struggling to be righteous or humble, we are all called to be truthful in our pursuit of sainthood. To be a saint means to be hopeful, patient, collaborative, child-like, holy and cheerful. The one who desires to be a saint will love God and His Magesterium first, be hungry to serve God in His people, enjoy for unity in diversity, will stand and speak-up for truth and justice, will not be afraid of getting dirty to be cleansed as well as clean, will strive to excel in every walk of life – in all circumstances, will laugh whole-heartedly at simple joys in life, will not shy from crying in times of much happiness or sorrow, nor will fear failure. Will not be ashamed of the crucifix nor the cross that is to be borne, will protect the helpless, strip-off to cloth the naked, abstain to feed the hungry, love unconditionally the one who feels dejected. A saint to be will not endorse arrogance or corruption or deceit, nor will judge by appearances. Will hate sin and its master; the devil. Will forever strive to live holy. We are all called to be saints, now and forever. Let us answer this call, now and forever, and begin to live in the company of saints here on earth.