May 7, 2014
By Father William Muench
We, Catholics, love our saints. Each of us has a couple of favorite saints. In many countries, your name is determined by the saint on whose feast day you were born.
Each day of the year is the feast day of one or more saints, a day assigned by the Church to remember and celebrate that saint’s life. I remember well that my grandfather would always celebrate what he called our name’s day that is the feast day of the saint for whom we were named.
The recent canonization Mass for Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II was an important and exciting moment for the Catholic Church. The canonization Mass declares for all to hear that these two popes are truly with God in Heaven as saints and deserve high praise and recognition. The canonization Mass says to all people everywhere that the Catholic Church places these two popes in high regard and considers all that they did and taught worthy of high consideration.
Pope Francis in his homily at this recent canonization Mass praised Pope St. John XXIII for convening the Second Vatican Council and in this way demonstrating an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. Pope St. John XXIII will be remembered and celebrated for following the Holy Spirit in making possible all that the Council achieved.
Pope Francis called the Church today to celebrate Pope St. John XXIIl’s lead in being open to the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis prayed that Pope St. John Paul II would guide and lead the Church of today to continue to unite all as family and to bless all families with love and happiness.
The Catholic Church has canonized many saints over the centuries. The lives and achievements of these saints stand as a guide and model for all. In addition, we do know in faith that there are a huge number of others who are saints in Heaven with God. They are not officially canonized by the Church but we are certain by the way they lived that they are truly saints.
I am certain that each one of us knows many of these saints, members of our own families, friends, important individuals in our lives – teachers, guides, mentors – who are with the Lord. My list of personal saints is long and very special; each of them had a profound influence on my life and helped me to become the person that I am.
Many simply do not understand what a saint is. They have the idea that being a saint means being very pious – and rather sweet. Saints are and have always been people who know how to live well, those who constantly strive to make the world a better place by the way they live and act. They are always ready to live in the spirit of Our Savior Jesus bringing God’s love and peace to this world.
Only a few saints will do something extraordinary. Most saints are rather ordinary, just like you and me. Someone taught me long ago that a saint is someone who does ordinary things extraordinarily well.
In the early Catholic Church, people referred to each other as “the saints.” When the leaders addressed the People of God, they called them “the saints.” When St. Paul wrote his epistles to the people of places like Corinth or Thessalonica, his opening salutation was his regards to “the Saints of Corinth” – “the Saints of Thessalonica.” So – I am pleased that I can write often to you, the Saints of the Diocese of Ogdensburg – and remind you that with God’s love and help – you will one day journey to Heaven as a saint of the Lord.