Bottom line: "To become a saint requires spiritual poverty: recognizing that God alone saves us and he does so through the sacraments."
The great French novelist, Leon Bloy, said, "The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint." You could achieve riches, fame and pleasures - it would all be like dust if you missed the purpose of your existence: to become a saint. As the Beatitudes indicate, it's worth any suffering to attain that goal. As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, we want to know, how do we get there?
Jesus tells us: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." Spiritual poverty leads us to the Kingdom of God - the Communion of Saints. Spiritual poverty can include voluntary physical poverty. But in general, the Bible instructs us to fight material poverty. Our parish St. Vincent de Paul and the Mary Bloom Center in Peru exist to fight material poverty. Material poverty in itself is horrific. It can lead a person to envy and despair. Spiritual poverty, on the other hand, energizes a person. That happens when we acknowledge our need for a Higher Power. We can't do it on our own. We need God. Blessed are the poor in spirit.
We see this spiritual poverty in our first reading from the Book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse - the end times. John has a vision of the Communion of Saints - a great multitude from every nation, race, people and tongue. All wearing white robes and holding palm branches. They cry out "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb." That is spiritual poverty. Salvation comes from God. None of us can save his own self. Nor can any other person save us. Donald Trump can't save us. Neither can Joe Biden. Only God can save us. That's what spiritual poverty means.
In the reading from Revelation we have indications that God saves us through the sacraments. The white robe refers to the baptism garment. The seal on the foreheads of the elect indicates the seal of confirmation. The Blood of the Lamb is Communion. The washing of the robes refers to confession of sins. That happens when we pray, when we participate in Mass and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
So God saves us through the sacraments. We stand before God spiritually poor, but grateful for his gifts, the sacraments. He has chosen us.
Before closing, let's tie this in with Tuesday's election. Some are saying this is the most consequential election in a hundred years. I don't know about that, but I do know there's one election you do not want to lose. That's whether you and I become part of the elect - the Communion of Saints. Compared with that Tuesday's election is small potatoes. My one goal as your pastor is to help you get to the Communion of Saints. Remember how Leon Bloy said that the only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy is to not become a saint. To become a saint requires spiritual poverty: recognizing that God alone saves us and he does so through the sacraments. BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Amen.
Spanish version (Word document)
From Archives (2008 All Souls Day homily): Baptized Into His Death
From Archives (All Saints Homilies):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru