Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Saints are not confined to museums

"The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners."

We've been hearing this maxim ad nauseam ever since Pope Francis was quoted as having said in the Jesuit magazine La Civita Cattolica, that, "the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle."

The notion that the Saints are somehow "relics of the past," stored in a museum, and that sainthood is to be dismissed as stuffy and remote and of no practical use with regard to warming the hearts of the faithful here and now and that the Saints and the vocation to sainthood are not proximate to Catholics, but rather are things which are remote, is disturbing.

On November 1, 2006, during the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

In his homily he highlighted the fact that "saints are not an exclusive caste of the chosen few, but a countless multitude towards whom today's liturgy encourages us to direct our gaze. That multitude contains not only officially-recognized saints, but the baptized from every age and nation who have sought to enact divine will with love and faithfulness."

"Contemplating the shining example of the saints," said the Holy Father, "awakens within us the great desire to be like them: happy to live near God, in His light, in the great family of the friends of God. ... This is the vocation of us all, clearly reiterated by Vatican Council II, and today solemnly brought to our attention once again."

"In order to be saints," he continued, "it is not necessary to accomplish extraordinary actions and works, nor to possess exceptional charisms. ... What is above all necessary is to listen to Jesus and then to follow Him without losing heart in the face of difficulties."

"The experience of the Church shows that all forms of sanctity, though following different paths, always pass along the way of the cross, the way of self-renouncement. The biographies of the saints describe men and women who, compliant to the divine plan, at times faced indescribable trials and suffering, persecutions and martyrdom."

"For us, the example of the saints is an encouragement to follow the same footsteps and experience the joy of those who entrust themselves to God; because the only true cause of sadness and unhappiness for mankind is to remain distant from Him."

Sanctity, said the Holy Father, "requires a constant effort, but it is a possibility for everyone because, more than being the work of man it is, primarily, a gift of God, thrice Holy."

"In Christ," he concluded, "God gave us all of Himself, and He calls us to a personal and profound relationship with Him. Thus, the greater our intimacy with Jesus, and the more united to Him we are, the more we enter into the mystery of divine sanctity. We discover that we are loved by Him with an infinite love, and this encourages us in turn to love our brothers and sisters. Loving always involves an act of self-renouncement, the 'loss of self', and it is precisely for this reason that it makes us happy."

Sanctity is a possibility for everyone.  Sainthood is man's primary vocation.  Not the relic of a bygone age.


Eric Levan said...

Some don't want us to aspire to sainthood. They want us to remain broken and sick. The Saints were REAL people, not statues made from alabaster. They overcame their sins and faults to become holy men and women on fire with the love of God.

The Church Triumphant is not a museum far and remote from our lives. The Saints intercede for us in our daily battle with the principalities and powers of this world.

Michael Poulin said...

I cannot stand the analogy is totally upside down, and you hear it all the time, from people like Peter Kreft etc... I say - The Church is supposed to be a museum of saints. When you go to a museum, you expect to see the finest and most talented of artist's works on display. You don't expect to see, nor would any sane person pay real money to see piles of trash. And, to take the analogy further, when an artwork is in need of restoration, the curator takes it down, off display, into the back room for restoration, expert cleaning and re-framing. He restores the artwork first, with the intention of putting it back on public display. Why does the curator do this? So that he can put it back on display for all to see and aspire to, to inspire others to develop their talents, and to show true beauty, to draw in more visitors. The world is supposed to see Christians and say, "yes, I want to be like them." Likewise the Christian is commanded to be a "light to the world." No one hides a lamp under a basket. You can't be a light hidden in the back room. You can't be a light to the world if your filthy sins are on display, with no intention of cleaning them up. So the Museum of Saints is exactly what the Church is supposed to be...Saints on display for all to see. Let's put an end to the "Hospital for Sinners" backwards analogy which leads no one to strive for perfection.

BaldwinvilleCatholic said...

Francis is scaring me with his odd pronouncements and actions. Cardinal Francis George doesn't seem to understand what he's doing and he also seems to be a bright guy.

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