[We welcome guest blogger Brian O'Neel, author of the recently released Servant book, 39 New Saints You Should Know.]
Next Sunday, His Holiness Benedict XVI will beatify his predecessor, John Paul II. When that happens, John Paul II will be just one step away from canonization.
In a way this goes beyond merely exciting (and don’t get me wrong—it is); rather, it is also wholly appropriate.
You see, besides canonizing over 300 saints, John Paul beatified over 1,400 individuals. If you added together all of the men and women beatified or canonized in the Church’s history by all its popes, the sum won’t come close to reaching this mark.
Our last Holy Father raised so many individuals to the altar because he didn’t want us to think of saints and blessed as simply museum pieces, dusty relics of the past with no relevance to our Christian journey today and thus of no importance. Because nothing is further from the truth, now is it? Saints are highly relevant to us today, no matter when they were created. Each of us needs their example, almost desperately so.
After all, each of us struggles on the path to sanctity. Each of us fights with our wounded human natures. Each of us sees through a glass darkly.
Putting it mildly, these factors make becoming a saint difficult. And if we don’t become saints—if we miss that mark—then everything else is something of a waste of time, isn’t it?
So it’s appropriate that the man who brought us so many stellar examples of sanctity—a number of them profiled in my book, 39 New Saints You Should Know—is himself being raised to the altar. By God’s grace, he will continue to inspire us in eternal life just as he did when he was with us.
Brian O’Neel is the author of 39 New Saints You Should Know. For 15 years, he worked in national, state and local politics, where he focused on budget and pro-life issues. Currently, he serves as an editor and journalist, and his articles have appeared in publications such as National Catholic Register, Catholic World Report, and Lay Witness. He blogs at http://lukndamirror.blogspot.com/ and offers tours through http://www.sacredhearttours.com/. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Karyn, and six children (several of which are home-schooled).