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Pope Francis might change your idea of “saint” with these 10 reflections


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 10/08/22

If we're supposed to be one of these, we have to know what they are.

On October 6, 2022, Pope Francis addressed a Symposium on “Holiness Today,” organized by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

Referring to his own exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate and the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, he reiterated that everyone is called to be a saint:

All the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his or her own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father himself is perfect.

Here are 10 excerpts from the pope’s address that might clarify or enhance your idea of sanctity. Take a look:

1Sanctity is around you

It is important to appreciate the sanctity present in God’s holy people: in parents who raise their children with love, in men and women who carry out their daily work with dedication, in persons who patiently endure sickness and infirmity, and in the elderly who keep smiling and sharing their wisdom.

2First and foremost

Holiness is not primarily a matter of struggle and renunciation, a kind of “spiritual workout,” but something very different. First and foremost, it is the realization that we are loved by God and freely receive his love and mercy. This divine gift inspires gratitude and 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.


Without this joy, faith shrinks into an oppressive and dreary thing.

4More joy!

The saints are not “sourpusses,” but men and women with joyful hearts, open to hope.

5Examples of joy

John Paul I, recently beatified, provides an example of this holiness teeming with good humour. Blessed Carlo Acutis is likewise a model of Christian joy for teenagers and young people. And the evangelical, and paradoxical, “perfect joy” of Saint Francis of Assisi continues to impress us.

6Normal folks

Holiness arises from the concrete life of Christian communities. Saints do not come from a “parallel universe,” but are believers who belong to God’s faithful people and are firmly grounded in a daily existence made up of family ties, study and work, social, economic and political life.

7Always alive, always timely

The saints are precious pearls; they are always alive and timely. They never lose their importance, since they provide a fascinating commentary on the Gospel.

8Catechism in pictures

The saints’ lives are like a catechism in pictures, an illustration of the Good News that Jesus brought to humanity: the message that God is our Father, who loves everyone with immense love and infinite tenderness.

9Sense of humor

It has been said that a sad saint is a sad excuse for a saint. Approach life with a sense of humor, for enjoying the things in life that make us smile is good for the soul.

10PS: Pray this prayer

There is a prayer that I encourage you to pray – I have prayed it every day for over 40 years. It is the prayer of St. Thomas More. Oddly enough, in praying for holiness, he starts off by saying: “Grant me, Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.” He goes straight to the point, but in a humorous way. You can find the prayer in Note 101 of Gaudete et Exsultate, so you can pray it yourselves.

Pope Francis
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