The saints offer us wonderful examples of holiness, loyalty and love. However, I think there is an error most of us are guilty of in regards to the saints. We tend to lionize them as legendary spiritual superstars “out there” far removed from our realities. A little consideration and reflection however, proves this to be far from the truth. Even though we may never envision them as such, saints had warts. Saints had to get up from bed and put clothes on. They had to eat and drink something and they had to urinate and move their bowels. When they got cut or scraped, they bled. They got colds. They coughed. They sneezed. They got along with some people, with others they didn’t. They were clean. They were dirty. They sweat. They shivered. They worried. They feared. They had headaches, upset stomachs, and anxieties. They were short, tall, fat, skinny, bald, hairy, beautiful and ugly. They got cavities in their teeth, dandruff on their heads, and had bad breath. Aches, pains, arthritis, constipation and diarrhea were all part of their lives. They were distracted from prayer and drawn by the material things of this world. They suffered loss, wept, and laughed. All of this, and much more, is the stuff of being human – and the saints were very human – just as human as I. I am equally as human and real as any saint.
We tend to brush all of this aside and focus only on the things that made them saints. But the fact is that what made them saints was what they did while being immersed in the unavoidable realities of being human.
The very humanity that gives us so many discomforts and problems is the vehicle of our sanctity. Sometimes what we have to work with is better absorbed by God that by us. We look at the pain, tears, and woe of life as curses, but the saints saw them as the rich soil in which love grows. God and the saints are on the same page. Living one’s wart-filled life on the same page as God is the thing – and maybe the only thing – that sets apart a saint from the rest of us. That’s precisely the point of sanctity: not necessarily welcoming, but graciously accepting all the warts as that without which the next step to sanctity cannot be taken.