Only God is saint
« For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord », sings the Gloria. Before calling to mind the recognized holiness of several people, after the Virgin Mary All Saint standing in front of all, we should always keep in mind this fundamental affirmation of our faith: Only God is Saint. Besides, by respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel never pronounce His name.
The God of the Bible wants to communicate his holiness: He is not only saint, but He is the source of all holiness. When creating humanity by pure love, God offered it His holiness and invited it to the communion with Him. The contemplation of this unfathomable mystery fills Saint Paul with admiration: « Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us and filled with the blessings of the Spirit, in the heavens, in Christ. He has chosen us, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him, in love » (Ephesians 1, 3-4).
This call to communion with God is addressed to all, with no exception, by ways known by God alone. The history of humanity as a whole demonstrates unfortunately that this incommensurable gift was not received. Nevertheless, God does not abandon us under the power of sin and death. Loving the entire humanity, He gives us His son Jesus, by Whom we are offered salvation. « He loved the Church and handed himself over for her, cleansing her by the bath of baptismal water, with the word, that He wanted to present to Himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish » (Ep 5, 25-27).
Holiness and baptism
How can we receive, and welcome as it should, the holiness of God? For those to whom the Gospel has been announced and who have had the possibility to ask for this sacrament, God communicates His holiness by the sacrament of baptism. Council Vatican II rightly reminds that « by the baptism of the faith, the disciples of Christ have really become sons of God, participants in the divine nature and, therefore, really holy. This holiness they have received, they should, with the grace of God, preserve it and achieve it through their life » (Lumen Gentium 40).
Such is then the authentic Christian life: a life trying to keep and to complete the holiness received on the day of the baptism. For that purpose, we benefit from an example and from a support. An example, that of Jesus, who is the model of holiness with whom we learn to love in acts and in truth: « love one another as I love you » (John 15, 12).
But we know that a too much edifying example risks revealing itself overwhelming, inimitable. That is why God wanted that in addition to the model, we benefit from His support, from the indestructible help of His grace to walk, day after day, following Jesus: « whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing » (John 15, 5).
How can we become holy?
In the widest sense of this term, but also the most exact, we can say that we become holy by a life of communion ever more profound with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, from Whom we receive the charity which is ” the soul of the holiness to which all are called ” (Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church 826).
In most cases, this holiness remains hidden, known by God only and, in some cases, by the close relations. The person concerned, however, ignores the process completely; otherwise this person would have succumbed to pride and presumption.
During their life on earth, the holy persons shine by their humility. Holy persons are convinced that sin marks their lives, as Saint John recognizes very clearly: « if we say: we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing » (1 John 1, 8-9). At most, a holy person will admit: « by the grace of God, I am what I am » (1 Corinthians 15, 10). Every year, the solemnity of All Saints reminds us the existence of these saints, so numerous.
Among these saints, some are canonized. Those are not necessarily the greatest in the view of God. It is very possible in Heaven that non canonized saints precede canonized saints. What is then the sense of a canonization? One can say that it is double: firstly, it is the solemn recognition that these persons have heroically put the virtues in practice and have lived in the fidelity to the grace of God, and secondly, that they are for us models and intercessors.