“We are all called to be saints, St. Paul says, and we might as well get over our bourgeois fear of the name. We might also get used to recognizing the fact that there is some of the saint in all of us. Inasmuch as we are growing, putting off the old man and putting on Christ, there is some of the saint, the holy, the divine right there.” –Dorothy Day
During a mass homily I experienced as a child, the deacon asked us if we felt called to be saints. When no one answered, he singled me out and repeated the question. Without a second thought, I replied “no.” Saints were amazingly special people who were in a different league from everyone else—if I were a future saint, I would already be able to tell. When the deacon told me that I was called to be a saint, because every person is called to sainthood, I didn’t really buy it. Sure, I understood that saints always did the right thing and technically everyone’s supposed to always do the right thing, but God couldn’t really expect that of the average person, right?
Remembering that experience makes me understand why Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, reportedly said, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” If saints are people who are somehow magically different, if they are in a completely separate category, then their stories don’t challenge us to change. If, on the other hand, there is something of the holy and the divine in every human, then we can recognize and cultivate sainthood in ourselves and others every day.
Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
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