March 11March 11 Editorial: Like saints, we are called to live Gospel to the fullest, show we are loved by God (October 14, 2022)

October 14, 2022


Like saints, we are called to live Gospel to the fullest, show we are loved by God

We are all called to be saints.

And in today’s world, we know achieving that goal is easier said than done.

Yet a review of those canonized shows us many roads to sainthood, and those individuals come from all walks of life.

St. Augustine was anything but holy early in his adult life. He loved to party, had a child out of wedlock and had worldly ambitions. Making faith a part of life was nowhere near the top of his agenda.

His faith-filled mother St. Monica, however, prayed fervently for her child, and those prayers for his conversion were eventually answered. St. Augustine’s story reveals to us that nobody is beyond the reach of God’s healing and grace.

More recently, we have the life of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who was a pediatrician in Italy. Happily married, she and her husband had three children. In 1961, her pregnancy with their fourth child led to complications. Doctors found she had developed a fibroma in her uterus, meaning she was carrying both a baby and a tumor.

The doctors gave St. Gianna three choices—have an abortion; let them perform a hysterectomy, which would preserve her life but take the unborn child’s life; or remove only the tumor, with the potential of further complications for her, but which could save the life of her baby.

With clear determination, St. Gianna chose the last option. A daughter, Gianna Emanuela Molla, was delivered by Caesarean section on April 21, 1962.

But complications led to St. Gianna contracting septic peritonitis. She died a week later. Her witness of faith offers a powerful example of a parent’s never-ending love for their child.

During her canonization ceremony in 2004—which her husband and daughter Gianna Emanuela attended—then-Pope John Paul II described St. Gianna as, “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”

In a recent talk, Pope Francis mentioned that the holiness of saints is reflected not only in how they overcame struggles but by their ability to transmit the joy that comes from being loved by God.

Sharing God’s love and mercy “enables us to experience an immense joy that is not a fleeting emotion or mere human optimism, but the certainty that we can face every challenge with the grace and the assurance that come from God,” Pope Francis told participants at an Oct. 6 Vatican conference on holiness. The gathering, “Holiness Today,” was sponsored by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints and held on Oct. 3-6.

“Without this joy, faith shrinks into an oppressive and dreary thing; the saints are not ‘sourpusses’ but men and women with joyful hearts, open to hope,” the Holy Father added.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the dicastery, announced during the conference the creation of a commission that will recognize Christians who, although not canonized and perhaps not Catholic, were exemplary and even heroic witnesses to the Christian faith. The cardinal explained that a “Commission for the Witnesses of the Faith” was set up on a temporary basis by St. John Paul II for the Jubilee Year 2000 and recognized Christians martyred for the faith in the 20th century, mainly under the Nazi or communist regimes.

He said Pope Francis asked the dicastery to re-establish the commission not just for the upcoming Holy Year 2025, but on a permanent basis.

“St. John Paul II wanted to highlight these examples of men and women who, although not canonized, strongly manifested their faith,” Cardinal Semeraro explained.

Like St. John Paul II, Pope Francis sees the need to appreciate the everyday holiness of God’s people.

“The witness of a virtuous Christian life given daily by so many of the Lord’s disciples represents for all of us an encouragement to respond personally to our own call to be saints,” the pope told conference participants.

Those who have been beatified or canonized remind us, he added, that “it is possible, and indeed rewarding, to live the Gospel to the fullest.”

Living the Gospel to the fullest is countercultural in today’s ever-increasing secular world, but we are called to do just that as Christian witnesses.

Despite the challenges and roadblocks thrown our way, may we be able transmit a joy that shows we are loved by God. And let us pray we can share that truth with others.

—Mike Krokos

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