Saints - They Made The Most of It

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In this life we are all looking for the same thing: happiness.  Saints are those who have found it.  They are perfectly happy with God in heaven.  On earth they enjoyed a special closeness to God that brought them great happiness even in the midst of sufferings.  But there is one thing we must always remember about the saints, and that is that they all started out just like each of us.  What is more, each of us is called to be a saint too.

Many a saint, writing or speaking about his life, remembered being unhappy for years while he ignored God and followed the ways of the world.  He might forget his unhappiness for awhile in seeking pleasure, but when the pleasure ended he was sadder than before.  Then he had a change of heart, turned to God, and began a new life.  Through prayer and the sacraments he practiced loving God, and he practiced loving his neighbors by doing good works.  His old life of sin was over and done with.

The great St. Augustine wrote:  "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

We can only be happy to the extent that we are in harmony with the will of God, that is, to the extent that we are doing what God wants.  Any distance from God, great or small, caused by sin, great or small, means that much unhappiness.  The key to happiness, then, may be called "friendship with God" or doing God's will.  The saints are close friends of God.  This friendship brings them great joy, for we were made for friendship with God and nothing else can make up for that if we do not have it.

There is only one cure for the unhappy man, and that is for him to turn to God with all his heart.  Nothing else can satisfy him.

Jesus calls sanctity, or happiness and holiness, the "Kingdom of God", and he compares true happiness to a merchant's search for fine pearls:  "When he found one really valuable pearl, he went back and put up for sale all that he had and bought it" (Mt. 13:46).

This is what the saints have done.  In many cases they have completely changed their lives in order to conform to the gospel and be at peace with God.  Now, after a happy life on earth, they enjoy the full and tremendous happiness of seeing God in Heaven.

Saints Victorious

We call the saints in Heaven the Church Triumphant, because they have grasped the final prize which is God himself.  God has given himself to them; he is theirs for all eternity.  "Eternal life" doesn't just mean living forever, it means living God's life forever.


We should take advantage of the great power of the saints to intercede for us.  "Intercede" means to speak up for us, to plead our case.  We should pray to the saints and ask them to do this.  They are called "Intercessors" - those who intercede.  When we pray to the saints we are honoring them, and in honoring them we honor God because we acknowledge that through God's grace they have been victorious over sin.  We ask the saints to intercede for us because they are very dear friends of God.  We should pray, particularly, to our patron saints, those for whom we have been named.  And we should pray especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the greatest of the saints, given to us as our Mother by Jesus himself.  We have many special prayers to Mary, but the best known is the "Hail Mary".  We should also pray to the good angels, although we know the names of only three of them:  St. Michael the Archangel, St. Gabriel, whom God sent to the Blessed Virgin to ask her to become the mother of his Son, and St. Raphael.  We should pray every day to our own guardian angel, for he is always with us to help us.  In addition we should pray to our favorite saints, those for whom we feel a special attraction.

Besides asking the saints to intercede for us, we should study their lives so that we may learn from them how to attain our goal of Heaven.  By imitating their virtuous lives we will find it easier to know and fulfill the will of God. 

We should keep in mind that the saints are real people who are now with Jesus in Heaven.  If we make friends with them today, they will remember us when we need them most.

The Blessed in Heaven

Those whom we honor by name as saints are those whom the Church has determined with complete certainty to be now in Heaven.  There are many, many others in Heaven unknown to us whom we will meet when we get there.

How many saints are there, including all those of whom we do not now know?  St. John, in the Book of Revelation, tells us of a vision of Heaven: "After this I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could count from every nation and race, people and tongue." (Rev 7:9)  This is comforting, but we should never take Heaven for granted.  With St. Paul we must "run the race": we must "fight the good fight" (2Tim 4:6-7).

Used with the permission of The Ignatius Press 800-799-5534

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