Lay Saints: How God Sanctifies the World

God’s grace will reach anywhere we allow it to enter. He seeks to sanctify every area of our culture from within. We need to become the saints that God will raise up for the renewal of the Church today.

In Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s disciples were accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). By that, we should understand that it went right side up. The Gospel focuses primarily on the Kingdom of God, but, if we live within the Kingdom, we will become a leaven for the world, bringing needed sanity and order. When Christians live out their faith, they become witnesses and reformers where clergy do not have access. To renew our world, we need holy doctors, craftsmen, politicians, and even computer programmers! 

Medical doctors may be hired to care for bodies, but human bodies belong to souls. We cannot separate them, even if we often try. A holy doctor treats all patients with dignity and charity, pointing them to the wholeness we need to achieve a healthy and holy life. Ven. Jerome Lejeune dedicated his life to the care of those with Down Syndrome (after discovering its cause) and working against any destruction of human life. St. Gianna Mola, another doctor, offered a very personal witness by laying down her life to save her unborn baby, refusing cancer treatment to deliver a healthy baby.

Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin raised their five daughters all to become nuns, while also suffering the loss of four other children. They supported their family through their own hands, with Louis working as a watchmaker in his own shop and Zélie running a very successful lace business. Even while employing their craft, they remained focused primarily on prayer and the education of their children in the faith. Through their care, “the greatest saint of the modern world,” their daughter St. Thérèse of Lisieux, embraced her vocation of the Little Way of offering all things to God in love.

Even politicians can be saints. There are many saintly kings, such as St. Edward the Confessor, St. Louis King of France, and St. Stephen of Hungary. These rulers  embodied the life of the lay faithful in the world, cooperating with the Church’s hierarchy and pushing back when necessary (with encroachments often occurring on both sides). More recently, the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Bl. Karl von Habsburg, dedicated his short reign to peace, seeking unsuccessfully to end World War I. Following the collapse of Catholic monarchy, Ven. Robert Schuman worked to establish the European Union as a means of achieving peace following World War II (despite what’s happened to it since).

Perhaps even more surprisingly, we now have a holy computer programmer. Bl. Carlo Acutis, the first millennial on the path to sainthood, coded his own website to highlight Eucharistic miracles throughout the world. His website is still operational. Carlo was devoted to the Mass and often dragged his family and friends along, who couldn’t resist his infectious enthusiasm. He died of leukemia at the age of 15 in 2006, offering his life for the sake of the Church. His last words were: “Mom, don’t be afraid. Since Jesus became a man, death has become the passage towards life, and we don’t need to flee it. Let us prepare ourselves to experience something extraordinary in the eternal life.” 

God’s grace will reach anywhere we allow it to enter. He seeks to sanctify every area of our culture from within. We need to become the saints that God will raise up for the renewal of the Church today. No matter your profession, God can reach others through you, making you a channel of his grace to turn the world right side up. 

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