TOROK: Saintly young people in the race

November 12, 2019

In this season of saints, the Church continues to give us some pearls of wisdom toward living a life of holiness. 

The inspiring Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, offers a cameo of a few great, young, canonized saints where Pope Francis precludes with “many young saints have allowed the features of youth to shine forth in all their beauty, and said in their day they have been real prophets of change.”

Pope Francis further comments beautifully, “their radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy” (Christus Vivit, 49).

Pope Francis then shifts to talking about the youth of today stating the “balm of holiness generated by the good lives of so many young people can heal the wound of the Church, and of the world bringing us back to the fullness of love which we have always been called: young saints inspire us to return to our first love (cf. Rev 2:4P).” (Christus Vivit, 50)

These young saints of today and their path in life toward holiness are the earthly saints, part of the communion of saints.

On more than one occasion, a priest has asked, “how many of you are saints?” to which very few persons raise their hand. Then he enlightens the community by telling them all people are saints. The priest always explains that we are not canonized saints but saints in that we are part of the communion of saints. We are in the race toward holiness.

In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul writes about the race to holiness: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (12:1-2).

With the season of all saints, it is good to ponder the many ways we work toward living a saintly life. How do we persevere in that race toward holiness?

Living a saintly life is about returning to the first love; the One who loved first. We return to Him in prayer. We listen for God’s call to us. We praise Him and express our gratitude for the gifts. We pray for others and ourselves. We pray for mercy and healing.

We return to our first love (Christus Vivit, 34), the One who loved us first, when we serve one another. We recall the St. Teresa of Avila prayer, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. ...Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world.”

Amidst our busy lives, we find peace and encounter divine love in the good deeds we do for those around us.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux said to do small things with great love. In our day, small things might include a conversation, a shared meal, a smile, a helping hand, a sympathy card, a birthday card, or maybe merely listening to someone.

Living saintly includes being joyful. When we express joy, we are showing our gratitude in that we recognize that amidst all that may not be well or perfect in our lives, we are thankful for what God provides for us, be it family, community, health, hope, love and certainly faith.

In closing, we return to our question: How do we persevere on that race toward holiness? Pope Francis gives youth a bit of advice that is good for all of us, young or mature.

He says that one will not become holy and find fulfillment by copying or imitating the Saints’ lifestyle; in fact, it may lead us astray. Instead, we should find our own path toward holiness, the path that the Lord has in mind for us (Christus Vivit, 86).

This is an exciting and enticing thought! What great things is Christ very personally leading me to via this race toward holiness? 

Norma Torok is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.