June 17, 2007

What are saints?

(Thoughts for Sunday)

I lifted this quote from Patem Peperium. Thanks.

...Shortly after publishing his novel Helena, in which he retold the story of the emperor Constantine's mother and her quest for the true cross, Evelyn Waugh received a congratulary note from a friend, the poet John Betjeman. Betjeman complimented Waugh on the book but wrote that "Helena doesn't seem like a saint." Waugh, who had tried for years to entice the devoutly Anglican Betjeman into the Catholic Church, replied with a brief catechesis on the Catholic understanding of saints:

Saints are simply souls in heaven. Some people have been so sensationally holy in life that we know they went straight to heaven and so put them in the [liturgical] calendar. We all have to become saints before we get to heaven....And each individual has his own peculiar form of sanctity which he must achieve or perish. It is no good saying, "I wish I were like Joan of Arc or St. John of the Cross." I can only be St. Evelyn Waugh - after God knows what experiences in purgatory.

I liked Helena's sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as sanctity. She wasn't thrown to the lions, she wasn't a contemplative, she wasn't poor and hungry, she didn't look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it...

      -- George Weigel, The Truth of Catholicism

Posted by John Weidner at June 17, 2007 6:20 AM
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