“The question about being a saint really starts with: Do you want to be happy?”
Today is a day of great hope. Today is a reminder that heaven is worth all of this. No matter what life has handed you today—good things or bad things, tragedies, suffering, injustice, or great joy—today is a reminder that heaven is worth it all.
I love going to Mass today. It’s fun to celebrate our patron’s feast day or a particular favorite saint’s feast day—but today we celebrate them all. All the saints we know and all the saints we won’t know until we meet them in heaven. Every single soul in heaven gets a party today.
A saint is simply someone who is in heaven. Some of those people we know by name, because the Church has declared them there by “canonizing” them. But countless others we don’t know. So even if they don’t have their own special feast day in the Church, we celebrate them all!
Hopefully someday, it’ll be your feast day too.
Too many people have the wrong idea about saints. They picture holy cards or stained glass windows depicting men and women looking heavenward. Golden halos adorn their heads and perfect smiles grace their faces. They’re far removed from us, like characters in a book. If you ask someone if they want to be a saint, they think of canonization processes and papal declarations.
But the question really is: do you want to go to heaven?
Pope Benedict made the question even simpler, when speaking to the students of the United Kingdom during his 2010 visit. The question about being a saint really starts with: Do you want to be happy?
Of all the things he wrote and all the homilies he preached, this address is one of my favorites from the Pope Emeritus. In it, he quite simply reminds me what my goal must be every single day.
“I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.
Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?
When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.”
I can’t say it better myself, so I’m not going to try. You want to be happy? God created you to be happy. And the answer to that is to be holy.
Let’s not be content with second best. Let’s strive to place our hope in God alone. Fight the good fight. Run the race. And, by the grace of God, hopefully someday this will be our feast day too.
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