How to Become a Saint

All of us are called to be saints, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us in its use of the term the "universal call to holiness." Holiness is not just the duty of a few, said Mother Teresa, but of everyone.  We do this by being loving, charitable and devout in our lives no matter who we are.  And with God's help, we can all move closer to a sanctified life.

But how do you become an "official saint" in the Catholic Church?  That is, a canonized one, one on the calendar of saints?  How do you get an "St" in front of your name?  Beliefnet asked me to outline, step-by-step, this often misunderstood process in a way that would be accessible to non-Catholics, as well as a little lighthearted.   So here's how to become a saint in the Catholic church, with God's help of course...from leading a holy life, to getting a postulator, to being declared a "venerable," to interceding for a miracle (or two) all the way up to your canonization Mass.  By the way, if you really want to become a saint, prepare yourself for a long haul.  Canonization requires the patience of a saint.  Check it out here.

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Vince Killoran
8 years 10 months ago
Yes, I've read this quote from Hardon before.  I think that's why I'm not a big fan of his: “I’m a Roman Catholic. I follow the guidelines of the Vatican.”  The people I think of as "saintly" didn't articulate their faith in this way.
My earlier comments really had to do with the "politicization" of saint-making.  There's some historical scholarship on how the changes in the kinds of people who become saints in the early modern period but does anyone know any books about the recent past?
8 years 10 months ago
Padre: Nice post. Making Saints, by Kenneth Woodward,which I read years ago, probes well the subject of Saint making. I was recently overjoyed to discover the works of John Hardon SJ who trumpeted the Truth, without fear and without surcease. He is changing my life. You better start praying, Padre, Fr.Hardon SJ is next. And Burke, I believe, is his postulator. Imagine, all this from Detroit!
Vince Killoran
8 years 10 months ago
Why John Hardon S.J.? I've read a bit of his work and I don't find him that compelling.  When I "Goggle" his name these days I always get hits for conservative blogs-is the "without fear and surcease" code for a political stance?
8 years 10 months ago
Nope. The Truth of Christ adheres to no political party.
8 years 10 months ago
"...In response to the query, “Father, are you a conservative or liberal Catholic,” he replied, “I’m a Roman Catholic. I follow the guidelines of the Vatican.” The holder of the Petrine Office is the direct descendent of Peter to whom were handed the keys of the kingdom. His mandate is clear; our duty as Roman Catholics is to adhere to both the letter and the Spirit as the Holy Father delineates them for us, not pick and choose those aspects of Catholicism more to our liking. As 2 John 9 reminds us, anyone who “does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God, while anyone who remains rooted in the teaching possesses both Father and the Son.”
John Hardon SJ
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 10 months ago
I tend to think that Robert Lax has the formula for sainthood, especially since he is the one who planted the seed in Thomas Merton's mind (''all you have to do to be a saint, is to want to be one'').
The following steps, according to a book about Lax -  The Way of the Dreamcatcher - are the 4 elemenets of Lax's spirituality:

Finding his true self. He said that ''a person is created by God as an individual so that God wants him or her to be themselves.''
Living in the present moment because that is where you find God and holiness.
Paying careful attention to what one is doing. ''Every moment in life can be a prayer if it is dedicated to God.''
Finally, Loving God and your fellow man and having compassion for him.
8 years 10 months ago
"If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ." -St. Ignatius of Loyola

8 years 10 months ago
Vince: he has been declared a Servant of God.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 10 months ago
Here's yet another take on how to become a saint:

"One of the first signs of a saint may well be the fact that other people do not know what to make of him. In fact, they are not sure whether or not he is crazy or only proud; but it must at least be pride to be haunted by some individual ideal which nobody but God really comprehends. And he has inescapable difficulties in applying all the abstract norms of' perfection' to his own life. He cannot seem to make his life fit in withthe books.
Sometimes his case is so bad that no monastary will keep him. He has to be dismissed, sent back to the world, like Benedict Joseph Labre, who wanted to be a Trappist and a Carthusian and succeeded in neither. He finally ended up as a tramp. He died in some street in Rome.
And yet the only canonized saint, venerated by the whole Church, who lived either as a Cisterican or a Carthusian since the Middle Ages is St. Benedict Joseph Labre."
- Thomas Merton
Jim McCrea
8 years 10 months ago
Hardon for Authoritarian in Chief!  Servant of God?  I don't think so.
Joe Garcia
8 years 10 months ago
Dear Father,
A very delightful piece. For the momemt I'd like to set aside the issue of the cause of Fr. John Hardon, SJ - I'm glad nobody called for the canonization of Fr. Vincent Miceli, SJ...then we'd see some real fireworks - of blessed memory with which, in the interest of full disclosure, I agree.
How does one "restart" a cause? I'm thinking of great men such as Fr. William Doyle, SJ. His cause has sort of faded in the last couple of decades and, having been inspired by his faith, love and humility, I'd like to see him recognized.
Any suggestions?
8 years 10 months ago
if you are looking to become a saint do not use the ehow websites it is desobedient to god so DO NOT use that site dont belive me go to it


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