Saints – not Celebrities

saints, not celebrities

One of the things I love about our Catholic Church is that it is in the business of making Saints – not celebrities.

As Catholics, we have a central authority and structured organization that unifies us.  It is a saint-making machine.

Unfortunately, many non-Catholic Christians have no such unifying mechanism leaving them “belonging” to various preachers or leaders within a very divided Christianity.  St. Paul warns against this type of division:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I give God thanks, that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Caius; Lest any should say that you were baptized in my name.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10-16

Christ didn’t just leave us this high expectation of being “perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment” without also giving us a way to achieve it.  He left us an authoritative, organized, visible Church to do just that.  Without such a mechanism, any community is doomed to division.

That’s not to say, however, that we Catholics don’t fall prey to this type of division all the time.  We do.  But we shouldn’t, because we have the teaching authority of the Church.  So we don’t need a particular celebrity leader, writer, speaker, or theologian to unite around.  We don’t need celebrities at all.  What we do need are saints.  We do need saintly leaders who unify us as the Church…not as something separate from it.

A celebrity has followers.  A saint is a follower.

Does this mean that some Catholics should not be more “public,” prominent, well-known or popular?  Of course not.  That is what some are called to be.  That is their function in the Body of Christ.

But we have to remember that each and every single member of the Body of Christ serves an important purpose.  We should never promote one part of the body as more important than the other.  That’s celebrity for the few.  But it is good to help each part of the body function to its full potential.  That’s sainthood for all.

[photo credit]

11 comments Add comment

Andreas September 29, 2009 at 10:05 am

That is a very good thought. I never really thought about that particular facet of Catholicism. I really think that is a great strength of the Catholic faith.

margaret cameron October 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Jesus Christ, the son of God, is the unifying factor among all Christians [including Roman Catholics]

Matthew Warner October 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Andreas – thanks! I totally agree! And I always appreciate your honest and open comments.

Margaret – I agree with you, also. Although, I would say it slightly differently that I think makes a more practical point. Jesus is not just a unifying factor, he is what we are actually unifying ourselves to! He IS the Truth.

What we need, as a practical matter, on this Earth is an arbiter of that Truth. We need an interpreter. We need a dispute resolver. We need a clarify-er. We need a visible leader. Without such a mechanism, the Body can not be unified. That’s just the plain, experiential truth.

And if the Body (of Christ – The Church) itself can not be unified, then certainly the Body can’t be unified to the Head (Christ). It is this unity of the Body (The Church) that must be unified itself before it can be totally united to the Head. Christ gave us visible and authoritative leadership on Earth as the “mechanism” to make that possible. If we reject that leadership, we reject unity with Christ.

Jason of Kim & Jason November 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Great post. Recently, I have been thinking a lot of saints as superheroes. This culture we live in digs its superheroes (and I am no exception — Batman rocks!) Saints are people we can look up to, people who spent their lives fighting evil. Some of them even have origin stories that rival any that have ever graced a comic book page. The cool thing is that saints are REAL people, and the source of their “superpowers” is accesible to EVERYONE.

Patricia November 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I’ve thought that too!

I once heard Fr. Groeschel grumpily tell everyone to stop clapping when they applauded his homily. my husband picked him up from the airport and he (Fr.) started asking which books my husband had read that he had written. he was trying to see if he was a ‘fan.” When my husband said “none” Fr. Groeschel said “good” and liked him after that.

Disciple Maker November 11, 2009 at 8:52 am

Nice thoughts! I am part of a non-catholic denomination that has historically been very anti-catholic, and in my opinion to its detriment. We are all of Christ, and to deny that is sad and unfortunate and it sends the world the wrong message. All Christians–Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant alike, need to remember that though we may be somewhat of a dysfunctional family, the children of God are just that, a family.

Doris Bond March 15, 2010 at 11:40 am

satan loves to divide (if “love” is something he can do), and in that division he is wanting to conquer and ruin the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church-the Bride of Our Lord Jesus. Look how hard satan is trying to destroy Her through Her priests, bishops and cardinals today! What could be more devisive than to besmerge the shepherds of the True Church. See how She has been attacked from within! The secular media now trying to attach the taint of sexual assaults upon children to Pope Benedict’s brother, and even to the Pope himself! Destroy the Shepherds, and you can scatter the flock. We need to pray without ceasing for our seminarians, priests, bishops, cardinals, and our Pope, as they are attacked to a greater extent by satan than the lay people since they have been given much in the way of sanctifying grace through their sacrament of holy orders. “To them that much has been given, much is expected.” May God purify His Church, may He give us good Shepherds, may He restore those who left the One True Church back to Her.

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