Today, the feast of All Saints in Western Christianity, always seemed to me in my younger days as sort of a “catch-all” for those of us who were not named after a canonized saint: a holy person (often a martyr for the faith) proclaimed as such by a Church celebration and venerated on their own special day. It was a relief to me that my middle name was Ann so that I lived under the protection of the Blessed Mother’s mother. Actually I found it pretty cool to have the grandmother of Jesus as my patron saint! Otherwise I would have had to settle for St. Louis – not the city but a King of France. Later I also found Lois in the Scriptures at the beginning of the second letter to Timothy: I find myself thinking of your sincere faith – faith which first belonged to your grandmother Lois and to your mother Eunice, and which I am confident that you also have. (2 TM 1:4-5) That convinced me that I was covered on both counts – first and middle names – and that it was lucky to have two extra grandmothers to watch over me.
This morning I was thinking about what makes a person worthy of the title “saint” and for some reason (before I was even thinking about Timothy’s grandmother) the word that came to me was sincere. Knowing that St. Paul called all those who received his letters “saints” made me conclude – as the Church has – that martyrdom isn’t the only way to be considered as a saint. Maybe we can only be called “saints in the making” but I think sincerity is a good place to start defining. Sincere, Merriam Webster says, means wholehearted, heartfelt, unfeigned, genuine in feeling, absent of hypocrisy, embellishment or exaggeration, earnest devotedness…
As I go through this day I expect to encounter a number of people who are on their way to sainthood. I will try to pay attention to the ways they act out that potential and maybe have a fuller definition by nightfall. Won’t you join me in the search?