A House Full of Saints

Zachary reflects on the meaning of sainthood as expressed in School of Community in light of his friendship with his own community.

Last month, some friends from the movement gathered to say goodbye to a friend who had been with us for several months and was returning home to Italy. At the end of the dinner we spent some time reflecting on the life of Enzo Piccinini whose cause for beatification had just been opened. It was pointed out by one member of the group that Giussani says in Morality: Memory and Desire that "a saint is a man," and this is why Enzo is a saint: he is a person who lived in the presence of the reality before him, with all of his morality, burdens, and sinfulness as well as his joy, love, and openness to life. This is what makes a saint: authentic surrender to the one who makes life worth living, which results in a deeper love not only for Christ, but for those who we encounter every single day.

I have been thinking of that line, "A saint is a man." In the same text, Giussani says that “the saint is not a superman; he is a true man. The saint is a true man because he adheres to God and therefore to the ideal for which his heart was made.” What is this ideal that we are made for? I believe that it is Christ, the perfect man, whose body we are part of. And being part of that body is a life of communion, living with others who have been given to me, not those who I have chosen. A saint doesn’t pick and choose who is part of that communion of the body of Christ. He is open to what the Body chooses to give him. What brings us into that communion? It is an attraction that at first blush is not easy to articulate or explain, but when experienced causes me to say, “There is something good here that I cannot find anywhere else.” As I drove away from that house, I was struck by the realization that I had just left a house full of saints!

I have been in a "long distance relationship" with this group of friends for a while now. While I am away at seminary I can stay in touch through texting and email, but I only get to spend time with them on rare occasions. Aside from a couple of people in our School of Community, I don't know most of them very well, and neither do they know me. Further, the people I do know I met in different places and periods of my life. It is a small miracle that we have all come together in this way, through Communion and Liberation, to be with each other in these particular circumstances. I have always felt welcomed and loved by these people and I am at home with them. The same can be said for our friend returning to Italy; she did not know anyone when she first arrived in the United States, and no one knew her. But when it came time for her to leave, it was as if there had never been a time she wasn’t with us. How can this be? No one said, “I am going to make friends with an Italian woman I have never met.” Most of us would probably not go terribly far out of our way to make such a friend. We did not hand-pick each other. Rather, we were given to each other, and each of us has been called by God in some way to live outside of ourselves, to be uncomfortable, to be with people whose personalities aren’t always compatible. This group of friends is moved by Christ in their hearts, who has loved them, and they can do nothing but respond with love in return. This is a saint: someone who loves because he or she has been loved first. We have a common destiny, that is, communion. A saint embraces that destiny in whatever shape, size, and color it is proposed to him. With this in mind, we can say that sainthood is not far off. It is in all of our capacities to respond to the love that has been offered to us by Christ with love.

Zachary, Florida, USA