Meredith Kononchek ’24
I still remember dressing up as the Blessed Virgin Mary for the kindergarten All Saints Day Mass at St. Pius X. I chose to dress up as Mary because even then I had a special affinity for the Blessed Mother. But, if truth be told, I also thought I would look very pretty in my blue Mary veil. As a five-year-old, I knew that I loved the Blessed Mother and wanted to be just like her, and to this day, I continue to pray to the Blessed Mother to ask for her intercession on my behalf.
Today, as Catholics, we celebrate All Saints Day. We honor all the men and women who have gone before us to be recognized as saints, those who lived saintly lives of virtue. Anyone who desires to have a relationship with God and chooses to put God before all else by helping those around them can become a saint. As a kindergartener, I assumed that to be a saint, one had to be a paragon of virtue one’s entire life. But as I have grown older and grown in my faith, I now understand that nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the saints we honor today, were anything but virtuous in the beginning. One poignant example of a sinner turned saint is the story of St. Matthew. St. Matthew was originally a tax collector, a profession notoriously known for its dishonesty. Although St. Matthew was considered a sinner for being a tax collector, he had a change of heart and decided to follow Jesus. St. Matthew became one of the twelve apostles and eventually one of the four Gospel writers. What a transformation!
That same transformation can happen to each and every one of us, especially if we are living apart from God. We can all look to the saints to remind us of how we should act and treat others. The love these saints have for God and others is nothing short of remarkable. Look around you. Every one of us at this Mass is a saint-in-training. Each of us can start our journey towards sainthood this very moment if we are not already on that path. You might think that you will never become a saint because you are not good enough, you don’t pray enough, or you don’t even think about God that often. But our path to sainthood does not have to be dramatic. Setting the world on fire can start with the smallest spark. We do not have to give up all our earthly possessions like Saint Teresa of Calcutta did, but we can start small like she did. Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” If we can all start to live by this simple statement, we can all become saints. With each random act of kindness we perform, with each meaningful prayer we utter, with each act of unselfishness we display, we are taking small steps towards our path to sainthood. Maybe instead of gossiping about a fellow student, or talking back to our parents, or being disrespectful, we could instead offer up a small sacrifice to God.
The good news is that God is patiently waiting for you and me to choose our own path to sainthood, but in order for us to really trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, will be there to guide us on this path, we must know God on a personal level. Would you have complete trust in someone if he were a stranger to you? Probably not. You trust most the people you know and whom you have a close relationship with. The same holds true for our relationship with God. We need to trust that God will be there to walk alongside us every step of the way. God has already shown us that He wants us to love Him by sending us His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our redemption. While Jesus was on Earth, He showed us by His example how to find our way to the Father. God also gave us these men and women known as saints so that we may learn from their examples and strive to have a relationship with God like they do.
Some of us might be a stone’s throw from our path, while some of us may not be able to clearly see our path just yet, or for some of us – it is difficult to even realize that there is a possible path to sainthood. Isn’t it comforting to know that even if we detour a little in the wrong direction, God is always there to offer us an alternative route back to Him and to sainthood?
As a Junior, I am receiving the sacrament of Confirmation this year. When asked who my Confirmation Saint would be, I was not certain at first. After much contemplation, I chose St. Bernadette because her selflessness and complete trust in God is what I strive to emulate every day. In the past, I hardly ever considered praying to a saint for guidance. But God gave us these saints so that we can ask them for intercessory favors on our behalf. So now, when I pray, in addition to my usual prayers, I also pray to St. Bernadette to give me strength and courage to live a virtuous life. So, I invite all of you here today to pray with me to all the saints who have gone before us so that they may watch over us and guide us on our own journeys towards becoming saints.
Heavenly Father, you sent your sons and daughters before us to show us the way to you. Help us live by their examples and strive to have a personal relationship with you. Please give us the courage to completely trust in you and to know that you are always there to guide us on our path to sainthood. Mary, Mother of God, patroness of St. Mary’s Dominican High School, pray for us. St. Dominic, pray for us. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. St. Matthew, pray for us. St. Bernadette of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us. All the saints who have come before us, pray for us. Amen.