I am putting this together late on All Saints’ Day, so most of you won’t read this until November 2. But I would like to share a few things that might be worth reflecting on and carrying through this month of November, dedicated to all souls. My themes for today are spiritual consolation and Christian hope. The path to holiness isn’t always easy and sometimes the saints that we honor today might appear superhuman or distant to us. But before idealized images of them were written into icons or carved into statues, they were just people struggling with sin, temptation, pain, hardship, sorrow, stress, frustration, boredom, anxiety, trauma, depression, embarrassment, fear — all the things we struggle with.

Holiness is something within reach of any of us, despite the mess.

Earlier today I shared my brief All Saints’ Day reflection from last year, “To be made whole.” It was very personal, written within a couple of hours of a very powerful experience at Mass that day. Here’s an excerpt:

But we aren’t made for sadness or for pain. We are made for heaven, and to be united as one with God and each other. We aren’t made to be broken, we are made to be whole.

This evening I was reminded of why I believe: because in my heart I have faith that God loves us. I believe that God wants us to be made whole. I believe that God will reunite my family once again in heaven. And that my wife and I and our four living children will finally meet our youngest child. I believe that by the grace of God, we may all be saints.

I also want to share what I think is a very encouraging passage (paragraph 15) from Pope Francis’s 2018 exhortation on living a holy life, Gaudete et Exsultate:

Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23). When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”. In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10).

Today, Pope Francis discussed two ideas about holiness — that it is a gift and a journey. Referring the saints who have gone before us, the pope explained that “Saints are not unreachable or distant heroes, but people like us, our friends, whose starting point is the same gift we have received: Baptism.” He explained that the way we express gratitude for this gift and let it grow is to travel along the journey towards holiness. But this journey is not one we undertake alone:

Holiness is also a journey, a journey to be made together, helping each other, united with those excellent companions who are the Saints.

They are our elder brothers and our sisters, on whom we can always count: the saints support us and, when we take a wrong turn along the way, with their silent presence they never fail to correct us; they are sincere friends, whom we can trust, because they desire our wellbeing. In their lives we find an example, in their prayers we receive help and friendship, and with them we are bound in a bond of brotherly love.

Holiness is a journey, it is a gift. So, we can ask ourselves: do I remember having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who calls me to holiness and helps me arrive there? Do I thank the Holy Spirit for this, for the gift of holiness? Do I feel that the saints are close to me, do I talk to them, do I turn to them? Do I know the story of some of them? It is good for us to know the lives of the saints and to be moved by their examples. And it does us a great deal of good to address them in prayer.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he talks about holiness as a journey, in light of the Synodal Assembly that just ended. Because synodality is also a shared journey, “walking together” with our traveling companions in the Church. Those in Heaven, Purgatory, and here on Earth all have a common destination. We should remember to lean on each other along the way.

Image: Adobe Stock. By Michal.

Discuss this article!

Keep the conversation going in our SmartCatholics Group! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

Share via
Copy link