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The Making of Saints

Notes from the Pastor [73]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

George Weigel points out in his wonderful book, Witness of Hope, page 446, that Pope John Paul II beatified (last step until canonization) 805 men and women and canonized 205 during the first twenty years of his pontificate.  This is more than any other Pope in the history of the Church.  A great many of these declarations were made on his trips around the world to various countries.  The large numbers are partially because of his canonizations of groups of people, such as the martyrs of Vietnam.

The Church does not make saints.  The Pope does not make saints.  God makes saints.  Our recognition of God’s work is a long process in which the lives of potential saints are studied thoroughly and in detail.  Their writings are analyzed.  Their reputation for sanctity is scrutinized.  Miracles have to be attributed to their intercession alone and also submitted to medical and scientific study of the highest order.  God is wonderful with His graces among all ages, genders, nationalities, and occupations, among the married, single and religious.  Martyrdom has led to the declaration of large numbers of candidates as saints in many countries.

This is the message of Pope John Paul II– that we are all called to holiness, not just the religious and the clergy, monks and nuns.  Holiness is the vocation of every baptized Christian.

Pope John Paul II’s ideal of sanctity is the martyr — the witness — to self-sacrificing love.  But there are many other saints among us who will not be beatified or declared saints.  They are only known to God.  Nonetheless, they are still saints.

The twentieth century has just ended and according to Pope John Paul II, it was the greatest century for martyrs.  Mothers and fathers, priests and religious, bishops, popes and scholars have lived in such a heroic way that the Church wants them to be recognized as saints.

Msgr. William J. Awalt