Since I was a child, our family normally have few statues of saints placed on our home makeshift altar, the place where members of the family gather together and pray to God and seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother , the Saints and even the Angels in heaven. Our mother would ask all of us including our father to pray with her particularly during Angelus time, that is, at 6pm evening.
It was in my grade school when I got my own first small statue of a saint as a reward for a correct answer in one of our religion catechism classes. That statue was of St. Francis of Assisi with his famous prayer engraved to a ceramic tablet connected to it. From then on, I began memorizing the prayer and later learned to sing the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
As Catholics, we all have our personal favorite saints depending on our needs and intentions. In my case while growing up, there are other saints I have come to admire and venerate because of their bravery, tenacity, humility, kindness, purity and simplicity. Although St. Francis was the first one and apart from the Blessed Mother, St. Maria Goretti , St. Michael the Archangel and a lot more (such as Saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod) were included in my long list and some women doctors of the Church in view of the keenness of their intelligence.
Saints are holy men and women who have done extraordinary things thru extraordinary lives of virtue. Some of the saints while on earth were converted from incredibly wayward lives, the likes of St. Augustine who even became one of the Doctors of the Church. But they have done and sacrificed so much when they decided to go back, follow and live Christ’s teachings. They serve as our exemplary models on how to love God and our neighbors. Saints do help us in our prayers to God; they bring our prayer requests to Him and proximity wise, they are closer to Him than we are! Saints’ intercession have been proven long time ago and to date, even in my case, they have been instrumental in God’s answers to my prayers.
Based on accounts, there are about 10,000 Saints and Blessed (beati) proclaimed by the Catholic Church. It takes a long process for a dead holy person to be beatified and ultimately canonized as a saint. An exhaustive research and investigation by a few and selected theologians will be undertaken, and in the event it turned out favorable after a rigorous process and without objections, it will be endorsed to a Congregation of Bishops and Cardinals which will then recommend the matter, after a careful review, to the Pope who has the prerogative to decide on beatification or to declare the concerned person “Blessed”. Finally, a miracle is an essential component before a “Blessed” is canonized as Saint.
On 27th April 2014, two new Saints will be proclaimed by the present Pope (Pope Francis) at the St. Peter’s Basilica/Square, Vatican City, namely: Pope John Paul II (Karol Jo’sef Wojttyla of Poland) and Pope John XX111 (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli of Italy). This will be the first time that a double Pope would be declared Saints at the same time. These Popes are considered two of the “Greats” among the Holy Fathers in the Catholic Church. While they both have “John” in their names, they too have many followers and admirers in the Catholic world.
John Paul II despite his stern views on the more controversial issues, had however a charismatic presence particularly to the youth, reflective of the large crowd during World Youth Day events. I still remember long time ago, my ex boyfriend and I had to sleep on a grassy park together with other delegates of Catholics from other countries patiently waiting for his arrival until the wee hours in the morning. It was worth it because we got to see Him up close and now that He is Heaven, He will hopefully help us someday. On the other hand, Pope John XX111 was the one who launched the Second Vatican Council, albeit , was not able to live and witness the implementation of the Council based on reports. Pope Francis spoke of him with respect and admiration in one of the interviews. He said, ” Pope John was courageous, a good country priest with a great sense of humor and great holiness”.
Some of us may be lucky to travel to Rome to attend the canonization of these great Popes, however those of us who won’t be able to make it are likewise fortunate enough to witness the event via TV and other media coverage. For the very first time the Vatican TV network aided by a high tech state of the art multi media facility would be showing the event on TV and theaters in 3D.
While we are enthusiastic about the upcoming canonization, what is more important is our faith in and love for God; how we should live a good Catholic life despite the many challenges in this world. We have known many saints in our lives but we too are called and challenged by God to be “SAINTS”!