Microsoft word - i’m no saint.doc
“I’m No Saint!” Don’t Be So Sure
As my kids might say, “Well, duh!” Meaning: Is that really news to anyone? But when we say, “I’m no saint,” we’re not really stating the obvious. What
we mean is, “Don’t hold me to the standards of sainthood, because I don’t accept them.” Or, sometimes we mean it as an excuse for unacceptable
behavior. “OK, so I misappropriated campaign funds, or I cheated on my
spouse, or I ran a stop sign. But after all, I’m no saint.” Sometimes, we even say it proudly, as if to be a saint were somehow beneath us. However we
Sometimes we may say of someone else that he or she is a saint, as in, “My
wife is a saint for the way she puts up with me.” But we would never, ever say of ourselves, “I’m a saint.” No. Even if someone else says it of us, our
response is likely to be denial. “I’m no saint,” we would quickly say.
But it makes you wonder… if there are no saints, where did all the saints
come from? Oh, we say, they were special people, touched by God in a way the rest of us aren’t. Joy Behar, of TV’s The View
, said that there are no
modern-day saints because of psychotropic drugs. That is, in the old days when people heard voices and did extraordinary things, they were
considered to be touched by God. Nowadays they are simply shot up with
thorazine. If she’s right about that, then who would ever want to be a saint?
Even the person most of us would probably consider the most saintly person
of our lifetime, Mother Teresa, would have said, “I’m no saint.” In personal journals and letters published after her death, she secretly felt that her faith
had left her. She said the she felt an emptiness inside where God should be, and admitted that the she sometimes didn’t even pray anymore. She once
said that if she were ever considered to be a saint, it would be a saint of
darkness. So, if even Mother Teresa would say, “I’m no saint,” then who could possibly be a saint?
Well, first of all it should be said that saints have never been sinless people.
Even the great saints of the church would have said, “I’m no angel.” St.
Augustine reportedly once prayed, “Lord, make me chaste… but not yet.” No, saints have never been sinless.
Furthermore, saintliness is not a requirement for sainthood. What I mean by
that is that is what we think of as saintliness, which usually involves
someone who is exceptionally holy or virtuous, may have nothing to do with whether or not one is a saint.
Look at what Jesus said. “Blessed are the poor.” That’s what he says in
Luke; in Matthew it’s, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Either way, he’s
saying the blessed are those that have nothing, or at the very least, not enough of anything – whether that be in the way of material things or
spiritual things. “Blessed are you who are hungry,” or those who “hunger and thirst for things to be set right.” “Blessed are you who weep; Blessed
are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, defile you, and
defame you….” We think of saints as those who are filled with God, who have the answers, who know peace of heart and mind. But Jesus is saying
that the blessed of God are those who are empty, who have no answers but
are hungry for them, whose hearts and minds are filled with grief rather
than peace. Hardly conditions we associate with sainthood. But they are conditions with which we are all too well acquainted with.
Why are the poor and the hungry and the grief-stricken and the excluded so
blessed? Jesus says it is because theirs is the kingdom of God; because they
will be filled; because they will laugh; and because their reward will be great in heaven. I can see that. I can understand that. Jesus is saying a great
reversal is coming. But I think he’s saying something else, too. I think he’s saying that the conditions of poverty, hunger, grief, and exclusion are the
very conditions in which God’s presence and grace can shine through.
Samuel Chandler talks about a character in one of Michael Malone’s novels,
an Episcopal priest, who says: "What makes a saint? If stars are the light, then I'd say saints are people the light shines through. Not just the famous
saints, because the famous ones are stars, too. But the everyday saints
around us in the world. Light shines through them and illuminates what they see. The light just goes right through them to what they love so that we can
see its beauty. They don't get in the way because they're looking too."
“I’m no saint.” That’s what every one of us says. But this is not a “No Saint
Zone.” In fact, I’m looking at a room full of saints, because I’ve seen the light shine through each and every one of you. And if you’re honest with
yourselves, you’ve seen it, too. And you’ve known that it wasn’t because of who you are, but because of who God is.
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An Argument for a Narrow Interpretation1 ABSTRACTThe paper argues for two kinds of limitations on the right to parenthood. First, it claims that the right to parenthooddoes not entail a right to have as many children as one desires. This conclusion follows from the standard justificationsfor the right to parenthood, none of which establishes the need to grant special protection to having as ma