What is a saint?

The Catholic Church officially recognizes thousands of saints through a thorough and lengthy process. But the total number of saints is impossible to calculate, because it includes every person who is in heaven. That’s right, some of your deceased family and friends, though not officially canonized by the Church, may be saints. Wouldn’t you like to be one, too?

What is a saint?

“A saint is just a sinner who loves God more than his sins,” Fr. Sam Martin quoted from a homily he heard while in seminary. “We all struggle with temptation—the world, the flesh, the devil—these things that work against us and try to compromise us and divide us between God who loves us unconditionally and our ability or inability to believe in that love, to receive it. Sin is a rejection of the good things that God wants us to have and we settle for so much less than he would otherwise give us.”

The thing is, sanctity is never something we can achieve on our own. It’s all about leaning on our Heavenly Father. “A saint is what God is doing in a human being. It’s not like, wow, look at what I did for God! We think that and we wish we could do that, but in the end it’s all God’s project, his divine initiative. He chooses us, every one of us, and some of us respond more and some a little less. But in the end, a saint is proof that God’s grace is sufficient,” explained Fr. Martin.

As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.”

How can we become a saint?

Holiness is an ongoing process, not a single decision. It’s choosing God and virtue and obedience over and over again, every day of your life. It’s choosing God in the small things, inviting him into your day, and opening your eyes to how he is working in your life. It’s accepting the love, mercy, and grace that he is offering you, even when you fail.

It’s not easy and it takes a great deal of work and sacrifice. As Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Even when you are trying your best and striving for holiness each day, you might feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Even if you start becoming frustrated with yourself, trust in the Lord and keep fighting the good fight.

“We can’t even see the evidence; sometimes we wonder, you know, I say my prayers, I practice my Faith, keep the commandments, and I just don’t feel holy, I don’t think I am,” said Fr. Sam Martin. “Well, that’s a good sign. The saints didn’t know they were holy, either! … The Christian life is one of kenosis, of pouring ourselves out.”

When you’re truly humble, you aren’t thinking so much about yourself but you’re thinking about God and others.

Fr. Martin gave this piece of advice: “We’re so passionate about this life that God has given us that we don’t have time to worry about am I a saint or not. Eh, Lord you can sort that out! I’ll just try to follow as faithfully as I can.”

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.