The Crises of Saints
By Jeff Morrow *
We don’t have to go very far to recognize that there are abundant crises in our world today. We find crises of various proportions in every corner of the globe and in virtually all sectors of society. Check the news online, read the various blogs, twitter feeds, social media, or turn on the radio or TV, and you are guaranteed to be inundated with crises of every sort: crises in the world, crises in the Church, crises in the culture. We don’t even have to turn to news outlets to discover contemporary crises, we find them in the families around us, and in our own families.
In number 301 of his popular collection of points for meditation, The Way, St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote that, “these world crises are crises of saints.” This is a message that is rarely heard nowadays, but is ever so important to underscore. One most important answer to the crises we find around us, is for us seriously to strive to become a saint. Indeed, this was one of the most important points Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft made when he gave his now famous presentation at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2011, as part of their Distinguished Speakers Series. Kreeft’s talk was entitled, “How to Win the Culture War,” and although quite a lot has changed since he made that presentation, his words are even more relevant now than when he first spoke them.
We don’t take these words seriously because we don’t really believe that we can become saints. This is understandable, since on our own of course this is impossible. We know we’re not on our own, and yet we don’t seem to be any closer to becoming saints. The fact of the matter is that God has specifically called us to this divine vocation to sanctity, to holiness, to the perfection of charity. We find this not only in the fifth chapter of the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, but already in the teachings of Jesus, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Even before the coming of Christ, we read in the Old Testament, God’s command, “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19:2).
Reading the lives of the Saints teaches us many things, among them we learn of the immediate affect they had on the lives of those around them. We don’t have to very far in Christian history to see how this worked.
* Jeff Morrow, a husband and father of five children, is associate professor and chair of undergraduate theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University and is a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Initially a Jewish convert to evangelical Protestantism, he entered the Catholic Church in 1999
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