Is Fr. Dylan a Saint? Solemnity of All Saints.

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By Fr. Dylan James.

Mt 5:1-12; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Rev 7:2-4.9-14
Today we keep the feast of ‘All Saints’.
Now, as it happens, lots of people in the parish seem to think I’m a saint. People OFTEN say to me, “Father, you’re so holy”.
This, obviously, is very nice. However, what I’ve gradually realised is that this statement almost invariably is rooted in a FALSE view of what a saint is:
People, or some people, think I’m holy because they have a mistaken view of what holiness consists of. 
What people ACTUALLY mean is, words to the effect of, “Father, you say Mass very precisely, with great attention, clearly aiming to talk to God. You’re reverent”.
The point I want to make to you today is that there is a difference between being reverent and being holy, being a saint. Reverence is a good thing, and important thing, a vital tool TOWARDS holiness, but holiness itself is something else.

Let me shift focus for a moment and consider I question I have put to you before:
What is the MEASURE of holiness?
If God was to line up all the people in parish, and evaluate the level of holiness of each one of us, the degree to which each one of us is or isn’t a saint, WHAT would be His measuring CRITERIA?
When I was a teenager I thought there was some complex measuring scheme: 35% humility, 12% prudence, 17% faith, 23% generosity etc.
However, when I went off to study theology, to look at truly complicated things, I learnt that God’s measuring tool is simple: LOVE.
The measure of merit of a good deed is the degree of love that it is, or isn’t, done with.
And, The measure of holiness of a person is the degree that love is, or isn’t, present in him.
Or, to put it another way, ‘holiness’ consists of being God-like, and “God is love”(1 Jn 4:8).
This is why the Lord Jesus says that the greatest commandment is the twofold command to LOVE God and our neighbour.

Let me add an important practical conclusion that follows from this:
love is something that EACH and every one of us here is capable of.
This means that, each and every one of us can be a saint.
Each and every person here can love in whatever state of life we are in.
Each of us can love God by praying to Him, 
and of course this includes reverently attending Sunday Mass, attending the form of worship He established in His Church.
And, each of us can love our neighbour, 
by living a life that is more focused on his or her needs than on mine.
There are true and false ways to love, but at root love is not complicated!
And with love comes JOY -the saints are not sad; heaven is a place of joy; and the joy in the heart of the Triune God is inseparable from the love there.

So, to conclude, is Father Dylan a saint? Is he holy?
The answer to this question lies simply in how loving I am.
It is possible for me to say Mass very precisely, but without love. 
But I can also say Mass lovingly, and draw the graces from the Mass that can enable me to be stronger, and to love more fully.

Today’s feast, when we recall ALL the saints in heaven, reminds us that saints are called from every walk of life: mums, dads, bus drivers, accountants, and more.
It is love that defines a saint. It is love that measures a saint. 
And the saints in heaven are saints for the simple reason that they loved, and still love, in heaven.

3 thoughts on “Is Fr. Dylan a Saint? Solemnity of All Saints.

  1. From the resurrection onwards all those in Christ are addressed as ‘saints’ no longer sinners. I don’t know why the Church attributes ‘miracles’ to sainthood as Jesus himself said that many would say, ‘Lord did we not work miracles in your name, and Jesus would reply that he never knew them’. Romans 5 speaks of justification ( Christ in us our hope of glory) Paul then goes on to talk about Sanctification in Romans 6 (I am in Christ), God has imputed his righteousness to me so that I can stand before him as though I had never sinned.

    When we receive Jesus we are not receiving a dead Christ but a resurrected Christ and because he lives we also live. So when we are born again what happens? I believe that he was raised from the dead.

    What confirmation do I receive that he was raised from the dead?

    It’s when I receive the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37) On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. That’s when we are born again; it’s the replacement of the Holy Spirit within us.

    (Titus 3:5) He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, that’s what it means to be born again.

    In Christ we are a ‘new species of humanity’, no longer in Adam but in Christ. No longer sinners but saints.

    • Even though we have been baptised, born again, and are in Christ, joined to His mystical body, we are still capable of sin and indeed we do continue to sin, hence the need for the sacrament of reconciliation to cleanse us and help us start again with God’s grace. So we cannot claim that we are no longer sinners but saints. There may be some individuals who achieve sainthood whilst on earth, i.e. living without sin and very holy lives, and who go straight to heaven when the die, but most of us need some purification at the end of our lives in order to make us fit for heaven, this we call purgatory. Without purgatory we would all have to achieve perfect love before we die but of course we know that many of us don’t even though we have endeavoured to live a life for Christ we can still make mistakes right up until the end. Anyone who is in heaven is a saint, holy, free from sin and fit for heaven. There is no one in heaven who is continuing to sin, this is what a saint is, they have achieved perfect love. When the Church declares a saint she is stating that that person is in heaven to give us encouragement and remind us that this too can be our destiny if we cooperate with God’s grace. Proclaiming a saint has nothing to do with how that person lived their life on earth, only God can judge the state of a person’s soul. The only way for the Church to be sure that a person is in heaven is if there has been some miracle that has happened due to that person’s intercessionary prayer. Miracles come from God. Anyone still in purgatory is unable to intercede for us as they are not yet in the full presence of God, they are still in a process of purification and dependant on our prayers and masses, which is how we continue to cooperate with God’s plan for that person even when a person has died. So this is something entirely different to those individuals on earth performing miracles, who Jesus did not know. What this is telling us is that miracles are performed by God, in Jesus’ name. We may be a vehicle on earth for that miracle to happen, but that does not guarantee that we are living a holy life, in love, while we are still on earth, hence why Jesus did not know them.
      Hope this makes sense to you, God Bless.

      • 1John 3:9 ‘No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God’. Now you either believe this or you don’t.

        The reason why Jesus did not know them was because he could see no resemblance of his image within them.

        Years ago when my mother would send me to the grocers with a shopping list, he gave me what was asked for. I had no money with me, he was not looking at me when he gave me the groceries, he was looking at the name and Jesus is the name that paid the price for all my sins
        Romans 8:1 says that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the LSD. In Jesus God condemned sin. Sin is not the physical body but it can be used for sin. Sin is the area where I have no control over. Sin is a principle it is what brings you under law and creates a rebellious personality within.

        We are set free if we accept that part of the sacrifice that brings death to the old nature; this is the Good News. This is the Gospel. And what is that part of the sacrifice that sets us free, it is expressed by the scapegoat offering in Leviticus 16. 2 goats without blemish were chosen for the offering and lots were cast and 1 goat was chosen as the holy offering. So this little goat was sacrificed and this was a type of Christ who on the cross shed his holy blood for the remission of our sins, and through this sacrifice I can now come alive on the inside, have a new birth in my spirit and be declared by God to be righteous ….born again…a new creation.
        But what about my flesh, well that was taken care of by the scapegoat offering where the high priest would lay hands on the head of that little goat and all my weaknesses and infirmities all the traits that we had inherited from Adam were laid on that little goat and that was a type of Christ who knew no sin but became sin for us on the cross and that little goat was taken to a place outside the camp to a prepared place in the wilderness and was left to die because there wasn’t any sacrifice under the law that was great enough to deal with the nature of man, those things that cause us to sin and this is brought forth in the book of Isaiah 53 where it says ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.

        Transgressions are a violation of the law of God whereas iniquities are the weakness in one’s character and nature that cause us to transgress the law of God.
        You see this in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, ‘you have heard how it was said that you must not kill (transgression/violation) but I say to you do not get angry (iniquity) this is the weakness within that causes people to commit murder. You must not commit adultery(transgression/violation) whereas lust is the iniquity/weakness within that leads a person to commit adultery.

        The blood of Jesus was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, you cannot plead the blood of Jesus to get rid of your weaknesses. It is the cross of Jesus that deals with our weaknesses and the shattering of his life has accounted us to be dead to the old sin nature. He rose from the dead and now offers us this type of salvation, this type of redemption, and when I accept the fact that in this present life one died for all then all should be dead.

        When he died on the cross my old nature died with him. When he was buried my old sin nature was buried with him and when he rose from the dead I was raised together with him. Now through the power of the cross the old sin nature within me has been banished forever. I am dead to the LSD and no longer has it any power over me. I am now free to choose to do good or to do evil, the choice is mine now and I am no longer bound by any monster within that I can’t help sinning. The only way you can be free is if you die, and because one died for all then all are dead. God looks at you as a Christian and He says that your old nature is dead. You are to reckon yourself indeed dead unto sin and alive unto God. You should be presenting your body unto him not as an instrument of sin but as an instrument of righteousness, as one who is alive from the dead, that’s the message.

        In your flesh the shadow of the cross has come and has accounted you to be dead with Christ and because of that you can now come boldly into the presence of God and present yourself as an instrument of righteousness as those who are alive from the dead. You cannot come into the presence of God and offer him a bunch of garbage; you take it where it belongs to the garbage heap of Calvary outside the city limits. The only way that God can accept your flesh is through the cross, there it is crucified, there it is buried and there we receive a new life born from the incorruptible seed and from now on we are to live as though we were raised to newness of life and this was the message of healing of the New Testament. It was no going around saying if you have faith you will be healed; it was an understanding of how God considered your body. It is now a temple of the Holy Spirit, purchased by the blood of Jesus, and we are now to yield our bodies as instruments of righteousness and as Romans 8:10 says the spirit within will reach out and give life to this mortal body.
        We have to participate in his death if we are to participate in his resurrection life. We have to identify ourselves with the death of Jesus.

        Anything that I try to do by myself is a dead work, it’s dead because it
        has not been empowered or energised by the Holy Spirit. I cannot change myself, I am totally dependent on the Lord to change me, and I can’t do it. When I try to change myself things get worse, that’s what Paul describes in Romans 7. The more you try to stop, the more bound you become.

        The key to overcoming the old nature is renunciation. If I were to renounce my son I would be cutting him off from my life and considering him to be dead. If you take as example the Hindu culture where when a person becomes a Christian, they take everything belonging to that person, put it on a funeral pyre and have a mock funeral and they consider that person to be dead. That’s what renounce means, it’s a repetitive word where I have to speak over and over again that that thing is dead to me, until there is a separation and that thing is no longer a part of me.

        In Romans 6:2 Paul writes ‘how can we who are dead to sin live any longer in therein’ so whatever weakness or habit that is binding you, you have to keep renouncing it until it no longer is any part of you.
        This is what we call entering into spiritual warfare. You see we are carrying around a dead body that wants to keep on doing the things it is used to doing. But it is only by the spirit that we can put off the misdeeds of the body. We have this new life within that wants to come forth and take over so that Jesus can be king and reign within and that’s why there is a war going on within. And if we do sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous Son and as we confess our sins He is just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

        In (1 John 3:9) we read ‘No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God’.
        So as we renounce the things of the flesh and keep speaking them off the less hold they have on us
        And the life of Christ within gets stronger and stronger because ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
        And I too hope this makes sense to you and God bless also.

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