The Saints: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives


You’ve likely heard the term “saints” in religious talks or readings, but what does it really mean to be a saint? Is sainthood reserved for a select few who have done extraordinary things? As a Catholic scholar, I invite you to explore the concept of saints as ordinary people with extraordinary lives, deeply rooted in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Let’s delve into the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to get a clearer understanding.

Who Are the Saints?

First things first: who qualifies as a saint? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a saint is “a holy person” who lives in union with God and possesses His grace (CCC 823). In short, saints are folks who loved God a lot and lived lives of extraordinary holiness. They aren’t magical or superhuman; they’re people like you and me.

Why Should We Care About the Saints?

The saints serve as models of how to live a Christian life, drawing us closer to God. The Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible tells us we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). These witnesses, or saints, encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” in our own journey of faith. The saints show us what it looks like to follow Christ and live the Gospel in different circumstances and times.

The Universal Call to Holiness

The Church teaches that every person is called to be holy, or saintly. This is not a suggestion, but a fundamental part of Catholic teaching. According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), “all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (LG 40). This echoes what Jesus himself said in the Gospel of Matthew: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

How Does One Become a Saint?

Becoming a saint isn’t about performing miracles or doing large-scale, heroic deeds, though those can be signs of holiness. It’s more about saying “yes” to God every day in both big and small ways. As the Catechism says, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (CCC 2013).

Types of Saints

Canonized Saints

Canonized saints have been formally recognized by the Church for their extraordinary holiness. The Church undergoes a rigorous process of investigation to make sure their life, miracles, and writings align with Church teachings.

Ordinary Saints

Not all saints are canonized. The Church teaches that there are many more souls in Heaven who lived saintly lives but are not formally recognized. These are the everyday people who have answered God’s call to holiness in their ordinary lives.

Communion of Saints

The concept of the “communion of saints” refers to the spiritual bond between the faithful on Earth, the souls in Purgatory, and the saints in Heaven. This unity is rooted in our shared belief in Christ. “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church” (CCC 962).

Saints and Intercession

The Church teaches that saints can pray for us, serving as intercessors. As the Catechism says, “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us” (CCC 956).

The Role of the Saints in Modern Life

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the relevance of saints. However, they provide timeless examples of how to navigate the complexities of life with faith. They also offer us hope; if ordinary people can live extraordinary lives of holiness, so can we.


To sum up, the saints aren’t mythical beings but real people who lived out the Gospel. The Catholic Church invites all of us to strive for this level of holiness, as it is the universal call given to every Christian. By looking to the saints as models and intercessors, we gain powerful allies in our own journey toward God. And remember, you don’t have to be extraordinary to be a saint; you just need to allow God to do extraordinary things through you.

So next time you hear about a saint, remember that they were once ordinary people like us, answering an extraordinary call. Let them inspire you to live out your own call to holiness, one small step at a time.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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