Don’t think holiness is for you? The saints can help, Pope Francis says
VATICAN— On Wednesday, Pope Francis said the saints show us that despite what we might think, holiness is possible for everyone, and we should call on them for help in living out our vocations.
Some of us may be tempted to question if it is really possible to be holy in everyday life, the Pope said, but “yes, you can,” he encouraged, and it doesn’t mean you have to pray all day long.
“No, no. It means you have to do your duty all day long,” he said June 21. “Pray, go to work, watch over the children. But everything must be done with a heart open to God, in a way that the work, even in illness, and in suffering, also in difficulty, is open to God. And so you can become saints.”
“You can!” he continued. “May the Lord give us the hope of being holy! But we can. We do not think it’s a difficult thing, that it’s easier to be scoundrels than saints! No. It is possible to be holy because the Lord helps us; it is He who helps us.”
In his catechesis at the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis spoke about the hope brought by the Communion of Saints and how we call on them as a Church in the liturgy and in our lives to help us become saints ourselves.
For example, we call on them in the liturgy for the Sacrament of Matrimony, he said, especially for the grace to fulfill marital duties. “And this invocation is a source of trust for the two young people who start off on the ‘journey’ of marital life,” he pointed out.
“Those who really love have the desire and courage to say ‘forever,’ ‘forever,’ but they know that they need the grace of God and the help of the saints. To be able to live the marriage forever.”
“Not like some say ‘as long as love lasts.’ No: forever! Otherwise, it’s better not to marry you. Either forever or nothing.”
He explained how we also call on the saints in the Mass of Ordination. Candidates for the priesthood lie on the floor, their faces against the ground while the assembly, led by the bishop, invoke the intercession of the saints.
“A man would be crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him” in the priesthood, the Pope said, “but feeling that all heaven is behind him, that the grace of God will not fail because Jesus remains faithful, then he can go serene and refreshed. We are not alone.”
Because we have the example of the saints, we have hope that it is possible to live a holy life, he said. “Christianity cultivates an ingrained trust: it does not believe that negative and disgusting forces can prevail. The last word on man’s history is not hatred, it is not death, it is not war.”
The existence of the saints tells us “first of all that the Christian life is not an unreachable ideal,” he said.
Thus, we are comforted knowing that we are not alone, he said, and knowing that “the Church is made of innumerable brothers, often anonymous, who have preceded us and who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those who still live here.”
We call on the saints in the Mass, the Pope reminded, but we must also have the courage to call on them ourselves in difficult moments, thinking of all those who have gone through trials before us, yet have persevered in sanctity.
God never abandons us, often helping us through human hands and hearts, and through the saints, who are hidden but still “in our midst,” he said.
“This is difficult to understand and also to imagine, but the saints are always present in our life. When anyone invokes the saints, they are near to us,” he emphasized.
We must remember, though we are weak, the mystery of grace that is present in the lives of Christians is powerful. “We are dust that aspires to heaven.”
“We are faithful to this earth, which Jesus loved at every moment of his life, but we know and want to hope for the transfiguration of the world, in its final fulfillment where there will finally be no more tears, malice and suffering.
Though we are faithful to the earth which God has placed us upon and which Jesus loved during his life, we must keep hoping for its transfiguration in the second coming of Christ, when there will finally be “no more tears, malice and suffering.”
Our holiness is the great gift that each of us can make to the world, Francis went on. “Let the Lord give us the grace of believing so deeply in Him that we may become Christ’s image for this world.”
Our world needs saints, he concluded: “without these men and women the world would have no hope.”
“You can be holy because the Lord helps us; it is He who helps us.”