4.17 How does one become a saint?
Saints are people who were open to God in a special way during their lives. Because they were declared a saint (canonised) by the Church after their death, it is clear to all that they are in heaven, and pray for us there. They are an example for all believers.
The Church has instituted a specific procedure for canonisation. After a person’s death, he or she first has to be declared a ‘Servant of God’, then ‘Venerable’, then ‘Blessed’, and finally ‘Saint’. Everyone can become holy by living in a close relationship with Jesus, even though not all such people are officially declared saints.
What does the “communion of saints” mean?
The “communion of saints” is made up of all men who have placed their hope in Christ and belong to him through Baptism, whether they have already died or are still alive. Because in Christ we are one Body; we live in a communion that encompasses heaven and earth.
The Church is larger and more alive than we think. Among her members are the living and the deceased (whether they are still undergoing a process of purification or are already in the glory of God), individuals known and unknown, great saints and inconspicuous persons. We can help one another even beyond the grave. We can call on our patrons and favorite saints, but also our departed relatives and friends whom we believe are already with God. Conversely, by our intercessory prayer, we can come to the aid of our dear departed who are still undergoing purification. Whatever the individual does or suffers in and for Christ benefits all. Conversely, this unfortunately means also that every sin harms the communion. [Youcat 146]
Are we all supposed to become “saints”?
Yes. The purpose of our life is to be united with God in love and to correspond entirely to God’s wishes. We should allow God “to live his life in us” (Mother Teresa). That is what it means to be holy: a “saint”.
Every man asks himself the question: Who am I and why am I here, how do I find myself? Faith answers: Only in holiness does man become that for which God created him. Only in holiness does man find real harmony between himself and his Creator. Holiness, however, is not some sort of self-made perfection; rather, it is union with the incarnate love that is Christ. Anyone who gains new life in this way finds himself and becomes holy. [Youcat 342]
Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelisation: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession. [Pope John Paul II, Message for WYD 2005, n. 7]