Pope: Saints are precious pearls, always alive and timely
By Christopher Wells
A symposium promoted by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints is focusing on the topic of “Holiness Today,” and “represents a strategy” chosen by the Dicastery “to deepen the pathways for the actualization and updating of holiness today.”
Specifically, the three-day conference is intended to identify “who and how” to canonize those faithful who have a certain reputation for holiness in the People of God.
Re-proposing the call to holiness
“The theme chosen for the Symposium reflects the desire of the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate ‘to re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time,” said Pope Francis during an audience with participants in the gathering.
In his address, the Holy Father recalled that the “universal call to holiness” was a central teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and noted that it is important to “appreciate the sanctity present” in the everyday lives of “God’s holy people.”
From among this “middle-class holiness,” the Church presents the beatified and canonized saints as “models, intercessors, and teachers,” reminding us that living the Gospel to the full is not only possible, but rewarding.
Pope Francis emphasized that holiness is “first and foremost… the realization that we are loved by God and freely receive His love and mercy,” a realization that leads to the joy that marked the lives of saints and blesseds such as John Paul I, Carlos Acutis, and Francis of Assisi.
Recognizing the reputation for holiness
Sanctity, the Pope said, arises in the concrete lives of Christian communities, and is recognized by the People of God, “who have always had a particular ‘instinct’ for recognizing these models of holiness and outstanding witnesses to the Gospel.” This fama sanctitatis, or reputation for holiness, is an important element in recognizing the sanctity of prospective saints.
However, Pope Francis continued, “it remains necessary to verify that this reputation for holiness is spontaneous, stable, enduring, and spread throughout a significant part of the Christian community.” The risk of exaggeration or misrepresentation in the modern world makes it necessary for “wise discernment on the part of all who examine the contours of a reputation of holiness,” a discernment that includes the evidence of miracles.
The saints are always precious pearls
Pope Francis insisted that “the saints are precious pearls; they are always alive and timely,” and “never lose their importance.” The Pope expressed his hope that “their example enlighten the minds of the women and men of our time, reviving faith, enlivening hope and kindling charity, so that everyone may feel drawn to the beauty of the Gospel, and no one may wander amid the gloom of meaninglessness and despair.”
He concluded his address with the “prayerful hope that the insights and proposals of your Symposium will assist the Church, and society as a whole, to perceive the signs of holiness that the Lord never ceases to raise up, at times even in the most unthinkable of ways.”