The Path to Sainthood
If you “want to be in that number,” like the song proclaims, “when the saints go marching in,” then here is the formula for success:
A Holy Ordered Life Lived =
But let’s talk about rocks, trees, and animals first. A rock, a tree, or an animal (indeed all of creation), gives glory to God by simply being what it is in the order of creation. “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck—it’s a duck!” Right? And we are happy about it, if not a little relieved, when something is simply what it’s supposed to be—true to its order of being.
Therefore, you and I give glory to God by simply being a human being and living according to our order of creation by God. We are all THE ORDAINED! But our order of creation comes with an enormous specific difference: we are, more than any other part of creation, created in the image and likeness of the Creator God. That is to say, we are ordered into being with FREE WILL.
Notice the language we sometimes use when we as humans want to degrade or insult each other: “he’s cagy as a fox— slippery as an eel,” “she’s stubborn as a mule and as dumb as a door knob,” “he’s like talking to a rock and makes about as much sense as a square wheel.” Obviously, the presumption is that more is expected of us as a human being. A tree gives glory to God by being a tree, a mountain a mountain, and a fish a fish, and a human being a human being—not something less than. Second century St. Iranaeus is often quoted as saying “The Glory of God is man fully alive”; actually, the literal translation of what he said comes out “The Glory of God is living man” (Gloria Dei est vivens homo). Just so, the dignity of every human being is this very difference in our order of creation. Easy for a tree to “live up” to its order of creation—much harder for a human being (with free will) to live up to being created, as we are, in the image and likeness of God! But there it is—the path to sainthood!
On this Solemnity of All Saints, it is good for us to really think about what our wish “to be in that number” really means. We do not celebrate today all the saints we can name; but rather we celebrate those saints, plus all the ones we can’t name for sure and who we hope have made it—you know, like our loved ones who never got to the promotion and canonization process here on earth. Indeed, we may all have hope for the very reason that not everyone has to qualify by being as obvious as a St. Francis or a St. Rita. The only requirement is that one is wholly a holy human being. The most basic requirement is (unlike for other orders of being), that we are found searching for God. However, a better metric would be: to be found living the Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, Jesus’ Great Commandment “to love one another as he loves us,” and belonging to a faith community. I suppose the best advice I could give is: “Give glory to God by being a human being and not a jackass.” Amen!