Sunday Readings

Holiness is letting God act. Solemnity of All Saints

Priest Andrea Mardegan's commentary on the readings for the Solemnity of All Saints.

Andrea Mardegan-October 27, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

Today we celebrate all the saints, in particular those who are neither canonized nor beatified, nor even in the process of beatification. The hidden saints. Perhaps they felt they were a disaster: it was difficult for them to pray, and it seemed to them that they had many defects. They felt they were sinners like the publican and prayed like that: "O God, have mercy on this sinner."They felt fragile like the child's father and prayed like him: "Help my lack of faith!". They let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit to help others who were in the last place, they did good in a hidden way and perhaps no one noticed. They were unable to put into practice what they heard in beautiful homilies or the advice of holy confessors. They read the lives of the saints and felt infinitely distant.

On the day St. Josemaría Escrivá was canonized, Cardinal Ratzinger published a commentary in L'Osservatore Romano in which he wrote: "Knowing a little about the history of the saints, knowing that in the processes of canonization "heroic" virtue is sought, we can almost inevitably have a mistaken concept of sanctity because we tend to think: "This is not for me". "I don't feel capable of heroic virtue." "It's too high an ideal for me." In that case holiness would be reserved for some "great ones" of whom we see their images on the altars and who are very different from us, normal sinners. We would have a totally mistaken idea of holiness, an erroneous conception that has already been corrected-and this seems to me to be a central point-by Josemaría Escrivá himself.

Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint is a kind of "gymnast" of holiness, who performs exercises that are unavailable to normal people. On the contrary, it means that in the life of a man the presence of God is revealed, and everything that man is not capable of doing on his own becomes more evident. Perhaps, at bottom, it is a question of terminology, because the adjective "heroic" has often been misinterpreted. Heroic virtue does not exactly mean that one does great things on his own, but that in his life there appear realities that he has not done himself, because he has only been available to let God act. In other words, to be holy is nothing other than to talk to God as a friend talks to a friend. This is holiness.

Being a saint does not mean being superior to others; on the contrary, the saint can be very weak and have many errors in his or her life. Holiness is deep contact with God: it is making friends with God, letting the Other work, the only One who can really make this world good and happy. When Josemaría Escrivá speaks of all of us being called to be saints, it seems to me that deep down he is referring to his own personal experience, because he never did incredible things for himself, but limited himself to letting God work. This is why a great renewal has been born, a force for good in the world, even if all human weaknesses remain present. And he continued: "Truly we are all capable, we are all called to open ourselves to this friendship with God, to never let go of his hands, to never tire of returning and returning to the Lord, speaking with him as one speaks with a friend. [He who has this bond with God [...] is not afraid; because he who is in God's hands always falls into God's hands. This is how fear disappears and the courage to respond to the challenges of today's world is born".

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