With everything that is going on in our country today, I find more and more people asking the question, “What has happened to our country? How did we get here?” I have an opinion, and it might not be a popular one. For years now, discussions of God and faith have been systematically removed from our society. We are told that faith is a private matter and therefore there is no place for it or God in our schools, our workplaces, and certainly not in politics. When you remove faith and God from society, morals go by the wayside. When morals go by the wayside, you end up where we are today. Lying, cheating, racism, misogyny, violence have somehow become “acceptable” in society, while the virtues of truthfulness, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, and loyalty are deemed unnecessary.
So what are we to do? How can we try and make our country a better place? The first thing we need to do is stop pointing fingers at others and look at ourselves. In the immortal words of Michael Jackson, “If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change” (Man in the Mirror, 1987). Instead of looking at the world and saying “what has happened?” we need to look at ourselves and asked “what has happened to me?” Are there behaviors in my life that need to change, have I made mistakes that need to be atoned for, am I seeking to live a virtuous Christian life?”
The second thing we need to do is stop looking at society for a savior. If we are looking to a politician to be a savior we are looking in the wrong place. We already have a savior and his name is Jesus Christ. Real change is not going to happen in our country by a bunch of politicians fighting in Washington D.C. Real change is going to happen one by one when individuals start living their faith out loud. What the world needs are individuals who are not afraid to proclaim Jesus Christ, individuals who are not afraid to profess their faith in the real world, individuals who are not afraid to live a virtuous Christian life. What the world needs are saints!
Below is a poem that was circulated a few years ago. It was mistakenly attributed to Pope Francis at World Youth Day. It’s actual origins are unknown. I think it would be good for us to read these words when we start feeling hopeless about everything going on in our country.
“We need saints without cassocks, without veils-we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints, saints for the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, and theater. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.”
The last living American saint was St. Katherine Drexel who died in 1955. Venerable Fulton Sheen is in the process and he died in 1979. America needs saints, will you answer the call?