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The tradition of sainthood in the Catholic Church

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. –Mother Teresa
Roman Catholic Church is known for its sainthood tradition. A saint is a person of faith who has lived ordinary life in an extraordinary way. For the Church to qualify one to be a saint is a long process. Sr. Irene Stefania is Beatified and is on the way to sainthood. But my discussion is on what sainthood means to us today. One of the best examples of persons who did ordinary work in an extraordinary way is Mother Teresa of Calcutta- a Catholic nun who served the poor, the sick and the abbandoned with EXTRAORDINARY love. Her congregation – Sisters of Charity is found also in Kenya and the nuns are imitating what Mother Teresa did. She is now a Saint.
Every balanced society will always give an award, or a prize, to persons who have demonstrated an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. In other terms, we know of Nobel Prize winners, for instance, Prof. Wangari Maathai and many others who won the prize but missed the sainthood. St. Mother Teresa got both Nobel Peace Prize during her life-time on earth and Sainthood during her life after death. She actually, has both merits.
The real meaning of sainthood is not about the person declared or canonized to be a saint but those who are able to live by his or her examples. Sainthood is meant to shape our moral life here and today. It is to urge people to behave morally and in a Godly manner. For instance, when Christians choose saint names for their kids, it is meant to guide them towards sainthood and make them behave morally well during their life-time.
Sainthood in the Catholic Church is more of a moral teaching than just being religious. All humans in disregard of our creeds, are urged to respect God and to behave in ethical way towards one another. The saints are models for our human life on earth and we are urged to use saints as role models. All of us, each of us, must emulate the examples of the saints. Politicians are not excluded from this moral demand.
Thanks to Pope Francis the first in his effort to make such traditional Church functions closer to the people. The veneration of Sr. Irene in Nyeri is a lesson for Kenyan as a “nation” on 23rd of May 2015. It is again very significant that President Uhuru Kenyatta, former President Kibaki, Deputy President and many other Kenyan dignitaries and leadership were present. This is a great lesson for the Kenyan leadership to be ethical and responsible in their leadership style like the saints.
The event of Sr. Irene beatification in Kenya should send strong message to politicians and religious leaders to behave ethically and strive towards their own sanctity and sainthood. It makes no sense celebrating such important Church ceremonies without learning how to be saints. I expect President Uhuru and his Deputy Hon. Ruto to lead in a saintly way. It would be on the contrary to find any of them or both of them, preaching water while they drink wine. It would be self-contradictory for them to behave contrary to the expectations of God fearing people.
Congratulations to Pope Francis in his effort to make sainthood a reality closer to believers. This is an ethical revolution in the Catholic Church. The same Pope has made history by changing the diplomatic relationship between the USA and Cuba. Now he is doing it to fight corruption in Kenya. It would be a different case to have it celebrated in Rome. Celebrating the sainthood in Kenya is a great lesson for Kenyans and it would be exceptionally abnormal to find leaders encouraging corruption, assassinations, political hatred, oppression, abuse of human rights, and discrimination. I expect the President and his Deputy to be the exemplary of this event. Both should give to Kenyans the real leadership and respect God.
Remember that Sr. Irene Stefania nick-named Nyaathi, is a woman. Kenyan society is still struggling with 1/3 presence of women in leadership roles. It is a lesson for all of us to emulate the Church in uplifting a woman to a status of sainthood. What men do well, women can do better and it is now the time Kenyan leadership should not dismiss womanhood. Sr. Irene was not a Kenyan, she was not a Kikuyu, and she was not African but we all rejoice in her life of faith. She did not promote nepotism nor did she favour her community. She had no tribe nor political affiliation. She loved all. This is what our politicians should emulate.

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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

One comment

  1. Owino Odhiambo

    I have loved this reflection. It makes it claer that anyone can own the title “blessed” or “a saint”. We are all called to imitate Christ and to love God and others as God loves us. That is the reason why this articles invites our politicians to behave in such away that there leadership can help kenyans to be united as one nation. For a long time the catholich church has been full of Until priests, bishops, religious or martyrs and most were men of European/Anglo descent as saints. But that ended. Even ordinary people who lived heroic and virtuous lives can become sainte. Living a heroic virtuous life means that you lived your life in an ordinary way but loved God and others in an extraordinary way. For that matter, we should not foret that everyone is called to universal holiness.
    We need to be true witnesses of Christ, so that the society or comunity can have models to emulate.
    Although miracles are necessary as part of the official recognition of a person as blessed or Saint, a saint is any baptized Catholic who is united with God in heaven, who lived a life of great charity and virtues, and who is worthy of imitation. Muy bien señor Onyango! Adelante!

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