Saints in the making

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | December 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Bishop Cozzens and I have to arm wrestle over visits to our Catholic schools. There are few things more uplifting than a school Mass and classroom visits at any one of our 79 elementary schools and 14 high schools. I’m encouraged by the creativity and faithfulness of our students and inspired by the commitment of our teachers and administrators.

I’ve been wondering in recent weeks about the experience of my predecessors Archbishop Binz and Archbishop Roach. When they visited the Spanish classroom of Brother James Miller, or encountered him in the hallways of Cretin High School wielding a pipe wrench or plunger, or watched him teach the fundamentals of soccer to inexperienced teens, did they have an inkling that this Christian Brother would one day be beatified? There’s nothing in our archives to suggest that their encounters with this remarkable man were anything but ordinary.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

My hunch is that the rector at the St. Paul Seminary in 1917 had much the same experience of his young seminarian from Peoria, Illinois, Fulton Sheen, also soon to be beatified. The same could probably be said by those who 20 years earlier had shared a pew at St. Michael in the St. Croix Valley with the night guard at the Stillwater prison, Barney Casey, now better known as Blessed Solanus Casey.

Who knows how many future saints there are in our midst today? They dress like the rest of us, speak like the rest of us, and feel the cold like the rest of us. The person ahead of you at the check-out counter at Cub Foods could very well be a saint in the making.

One of the central developments at the Second Vatican Council was the emphasis given to the universal call to holiness — the pursuit of holiness has to be embraced by all baptized Christians. As is stated in the Second Vatican Council document “Lumen Gentium,” “in the Church, everyone, whether belonging to the hierarchy or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification’ (I Thes 4:3; cf. Eph 1:4).”

Imagine that it is God’s desire that we would all be holy, all be saints! The Council made it clear that in speaking about holiness it was referring to a life lived in imitation of Jesus, following in his footsteps and conforming to his image by seeking the will of the Father in all things and devoting ourselves to the glory of God and the service of our neighbor. Whatever our daily work might be, whether it be that of a Spanish teacher, or a student, or a prison guard or an archbishop, it gives us an opportunity to unite ourselves freely and lovingly with whom “Lumen Gentium” described as “the very Christ who plied his hands with carpenter’s tools.”

Given the universality of the call to be saints, it’s not surprising that the Church teaches about the equal dignity of the baptized and reminds us that we all, because of our common baptism, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Jesus Christ. As we take an Advent break from our Pre-Synodal Prayer and Listening Events (with nine out of 20 under our belts), I am very aware of the way in which all of the members of our Church, as potential saints, are being called both to live out that sharing and to put the gifts that we have received from the Holy Spirit at the service of this local Church, particularly as we seek to discern a path forward.

At each of the first nine prayer and listening events, we have heard about the importance of forming our children to respond to the call to holiness. I have been repeatedly reminded that our schools and parish religious education programs have to be giving the youngest members of our Church the foundation and tools that they will need, whatever their vocation might be, to respond throughout their lives to Christ’s call to follow him as disciples.

The example of Brother James Miller, Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Blessed Solanus Casey should give all of us — the young and not-so-young — well-founded hope that holiness can be lived in the course of everyday life in this archdiocese. Through their intercession, may we as a local Church grow in our hunger and thirst for holiness, and may many more credible witnesses of holiness in our midst be raised up for our encouragement and inspiration.

Santos en ciernes

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Category: Only Jesus