Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2014_04_28_TEO:_Los santos que hace Dios

César Izquierdo, Associate Dean de Teología

Saints made by God

Mon, 28 Apr 2014 11:57:00 +0000 Published in La Razón

Yesterday we attended the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, in a liturgy that was both solemn and, for many, moving because it was about two people who are so close to us, especially Pope Wojtyla. Thousands and thousands of people - myself among them - keep among their memories photographs in which, closer or further away, they appear with St. John Paul II. What has changed with the canonization of these two Popes? It has changed that since Sunday they have been inscribed in the canon, in the list of saints that the Church recognizes as such in a public and certain way: the Christians who appear in that list, with all certainty, enjoy God's contemplation, and are models and intercessors for Christians. It has also changed that, from now on, the liturgical report of these two new saints -report which, as Blessed, was subject to some limitations - is extended to the whole Church, which will henceforth celebrate the feast of St. John XXIII on October 11 of each year, and that of St. John Paul II on the 22nd of the same month.

A praise to God

The Church now arrives at the certainty of the holiness of her children after a careful and demanding process that highlights the heroicity of life and the perfect charity of those whose life and works are meticulously examined in the light of the Gospel. It has not always been so; in the first centuries the holiness of life of a Christian who had died was recognized by the acclamation of the Christian people. Something of this happened at the death of John Paul II, when the crowd in so many places proclaimed the holiness of life of one who had shown full identification with Jesus Christ and a shepherd heroically devoted to his ministry. Beyond the formal definition of canonization - inclusion in the canon of saints - it is possible to unravel the profound meaning of canonizations.

In reality, the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II has not made them saints. They are no more saints today than yesterday. The Church does not make saints; saints are made only by God himself. For this reason, every canonization is above all an act of praise to God who sows time and history with holiness incarnated in the lives of his children who have responded with submission free to the action of grace. We do not glorify men, we do not glorify ourselves for our great capacity for heroism, but we glorify the works of God made life, example, submission in the existence of the saints. God alone can make saints. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches this very clearly: "By canonizing certain of the faithful, that is, by solemnly proclaiming that they have heroically practiced the virtues and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church acknowledges the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of the faithful by proposing the saints as models and intercessors" (issue 828).

One consequence of the canonization of the saints is that there can be no doubt about their holiness. Once canonized, the Church commits her authority by affirming that the saints are truly saints, that is, they live in the glory of God because they have been faithful to grace until the end of their lives. The formula for canonization - used by Pope Francis - does not fail to impress: "In honor of the Most Holy Trinity (...) with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and ours (...) we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II as saints...". Canonization, on the other hand, does not mean that everything the saints did was right in the various orders of life. The saints could have made mistakes in their lives in the various activities they carried out, but in them the power of grace overcame the force of sin. It is not possible, therefore, to doubt the sanctity of those who have been canonized: the Church assures it and if someone deviates from her judgment, he or she attacks the unity and authority of the Church. "Saints have always been source and source of renewal in the most difficult circumstances of the Church's history". These words are found in a document of John Paul II. The inspiration for this affirmation is none other than the Second Vatican Council which proclaimed the universal vocation to holiness of all the baptized; that is, that all the baptized are called to be "those saints of God". John XXIII and John Paul II have been proclaimed saints not because they were Popes, but because they responded with full fidelity to their vocation to holiness. For this reason, they are models and intercessors for all of us.