Even if you are not Catholic, you probably still have “informally canonized” at least a few outstanding souls. It is not unusual to hear someone say something like, “My mother was a saint.” Not surprisingly, more than a few people have proposed my wife JoAnn for sainthood for putting up with me.
Of course, there are holy men and women who have been formally recognized as saints by the Catholic Church for the way they lived their lives, acknowledging their words and deeds merited them eternal life with God in heaven.
The problem is that many of the biographers of those “official” saints tended to gloss over anything in the saints’ life that did not sound, for lack of a better word, saintly. This does an injustice to those people and gives us the wrong idea.
The saints were people just like us. They were not perfect. They were sinners and they would have been the first to admit their sins. They did things worthy of imitation and they did things they would have warned us not to imitate.
Then again, the same holds true for all the good people we are ready to make saints. They undoubtedly lived holy lives worthy of respect and gratitude. However, they were only human and wholly human. They had bad days and they did things they were not proud of.
We are not wrong to look up to the canonized saints and people we know lived lives of faith and love. We do well to try our best to be like them using the talents God has given us. In fact, we are all called to become saints. But we also do well to keep in mind that God alone knows the kind of eternity our lives on Earth truly deserve.
Saints are reflections of God’s glory.