Celebrating Saints: Inspiring Young Hearts to Grow in Holiness in the Age of Social Media
Today (the 1st day of November) is dedicated to honoring the saints (Solemnity of All Saints Day), which presents us, particularly the youth of today, with an opportunity to explore their exemplary lives and consider how they can influence our day-to-day existence. I would like to share my thoughts on the relevance of saints in our daily lives, especially in the context of the challenges our world faces. In a time marked by issues like bad governance, political conflicts/geopolitical tensions and wars, and the negative impacts of technology—where the freedom of expression on the internet and social media (socmed) often leads to divisive conversations and occassions of sin, thus it is crucial for Catholics to reflect on the lives of the saints.
As you maybe aware, anyone can potentially become a saint, although it requires a challenging and rigorous process. As Jesus said, “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This means that by following God’s commandments, we can attain eternal life or go straight to Heaven. However, this path is not easy, as we are imperfect beings who constantly grapple with our weaknesses and personal interests, which can strain our relationship with God. Fortunately, God, in His infinite love and mercy, offers us numerous opportunities to amend our ways. If we seek God’s forgiveness for our sins, promise not to repeat them, recite our prayers with devotion, and practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, God will open the treasury of His goodness and compassion. God is ever kind and won’t forsake us if we fervently pray for His mercy.
As a social media user, I’ve witnessed disturbing instances where people resort to foul language, profanity, and disrespectful behavior to vent their frustrations on various issues. Anger and hatred seem to permeate every corner, both online and in our homes. Social media, in particular, amplifies these negative emotions, with many hiding behind the veil of anonymity to engage in harassment and bullying. What’s disheartening is that negativity often gains more attention and engagement than positive content. Even within the community of socmed pages/private chat groups, there are hurtful and divisive comments, especially related to differing political views, which often go unmoderated.
While expressing our opinions and frustrations is an essential part of our freedom of expression, it’s equally important to promote positivity to counter the anger and hatred that have consumed some of us. Engaging in online discussions and forums responsibly can serve as a means of evangelization, encouraging others to adopt a more positive approach. Spreading love and understanding through our words and actions aligns with God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It’s important to remember that the Bible teaches us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. As we spread positivity, we are more likely to receive positive feedback, as human nature tends to respond in kind.
Our anger and hatred can be lessened by emulating the virtues of the saints. Many saints were ordinary people who, at some point in their lives, committed grievous sins or faced temptations. However, they turned from a path of wrongdoing to one of righteousness. The saints’ extraordinary journeys serve as a reminder that, even when we’ve strayed from God’s path, sincere repentance, a change of heart, and adherence to the path of eternal life can lead us back into His grace.
As Catholics, we have our personal go-to saints. This rich tradition allows us to seek guidance and intercession from saints, alongside the Blessed Virgin and the angels. We can relate to the saints, particularly the modern ones who experienced temptation and hardship. Their stories teach us that it’s never too late to choose the right path and draw closer to God.
Personally, one of the significant influences the Saints have had on me is their commitment to prayer. They prayed regularly and even engaged in silent conversations with God in their thoughts. Prayer, along with acts of charity, helped them navigate temptations. Some developed deep, intimate relationships with God and the Blessed Mother through their devotion to prayer. Now, in Heaven, they have direct access to God, and we turn to the Saints, whom we consider our friends, to intercede on our behalf. We seek their assistance in obtaining God’s blessings and graces. The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes their intercession as an exalted service to God’s plan, stating that we can and should ask the Saints to intercede for us and for the whole world. They serve as our prayer warriors in Heaven.
It can be daunting to step out of our comfort zones and follow the path to holiness, but it is a necessary journey. There are no valid reasons not to pursue it or follow Jesus’ teachings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that all Christians, regardless of their state or walk of life, are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. We are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (CCC #2013).
Pope Francis previously stated that the saints, often overlooked in the world’s eyes, are the ones who truly sustain it, not with wealth and power but with the power of prayer. He emphasized that All Saints’ Day is an occasion for all of us to increase our faith and hope, reminding us that we are all potential saints. However, it ultimately depends on us. We are called to be holy even amid the chaos and challenges of the world, and it is attainable with God’s guidance if we so wish.
Throughout our lives, we have encountered individuals, both famous and not, who have strived to emulate the virtues essential to holiness in their daily lives. I personally know some of these people, and I am continually impressed by their goodness. For instance, a colleague at my previous office who served as my mentor is a devout and prayerful individual who starts her day with prayer and attends Mass before coming to the office. She prays the Holy Rosary daily, not just one mystery but all four. She has a method for integrating her tasks into her spiritual life and offers her work to God. She is incredibly cheerful, generous, and kindhearted. She embodies the virtue of humility, always showing respect to her superiors and peers, without flaunting her achievements. Her character, both personally and professionally, is beyond reproach, making her a potential Saint-in-Making.
As Catholics, it’s essential that we integrate the lives of the Saints into our daily routine through prayer and meditation. We should reflect on their works and sacrifices, particularly their unwavering love for God and their dedication to loving their neighbors. In light of social media incidents, it’s important that we become responsible citizens and children of God. Social media can be a powerful tool to spread God’s love, not anger and hatred. The timeless lessons from the lives of the Saints remind us of our weaknesses and God’s boundless mercy. We should be mindful of what we share in the social media arena.
Reflecting on the lives of the Saints is a wonderful way to find inner peace and prepare our hearts, especially as we approach the seasons of Advent and Christmas, where we joyfully celebrate the birth of Christ and His first coming into the world.”
For those of us who may be struggling on the path to holiness, both the young and not-so-young hearts, it’s okay not to be perfect at this point. What matters is that we make an effort. God recognizes our willingness and determination to become better. Let’s be patient and, above all, practice humility in all that we do. We never know; one day, God may lift us up and help us become the saints we aspire to be.
Pope Francis once recited this simple prayer on All Saints Day: ‘Lord, I know I am a sinner, but I do my best to live a life worthy of You. Today on All Saints Day, I recall that many of the great Saints were sinners. I pray that I may follow their example and one day be with You in Heaven. Amen.’
ctto: Thank you for the featured photo.