Growing up Catholic, we took the name of a saint to celebrate our confirmation in the church. Churches were named after saints. Books of the Bible were written by saints. On holy days and events such as baptisms, we asked those saints to remind God that we were still here & needed some help.
Despite being a young follower of Jesus, I still retained that old understanding of saint.
A friend challenged me on this and the way I saw myself. I was not a jerk; I made a mistake. I was not an idiot; I was an imperfect human doing the best she could. But I couldn't let myself off that easily. Someone needed to take responsibility, right?
(Yes, for those of you who read the book, Jesus did that. Books are always better than the movies. Except The Hobbit.)
This reflexive renaming myself based on my actions was certainly based in sin, not just my own. It was learned. But that doesn't mean new information couldn't correct the old.
And that was what happened at the baptism of Olivia. My friend's words, the one who had been sharing with me what my identity was in Christ, suddenly made sense in a concrete way.
The priest began the Litany of the Saints, a communal prayer in the call and respond style, by singing the name of saints followed by the group's response asking the saint to "pray for us."
Maybe because he was younger or hipper or at the poorer parish or surrounded by bikers, the priest started asking our names and adding them to the sing-song prayer.
Saint Henry...pray for us
Saint Ann...pray for us
Saint Fred...pray for us
Saint Michael...pray for us
And as we continued this prayer, he explained the reason he did this was that each of us who are followers of Christ are saints. Here and now. No miracles after death required.
And at that moment I understood grace a little more. That Christ really had done all the work-we just needed to be who we are. That my scruffy biker and hippy and hooker-heeled friends were also called to be in Christ and some could see it. That if we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, we ARE holy and we ARE saints. That I am a saint.
I forget it often, but I do allow myself to be "in the process of sanctification" now. Frankly, it is beyond my imagination, still, that God would even care for me this much. So baby steps it is.
Fortunately, most saints that I have read about have had their own baby step moments. There is still hope for me, Saint Jaime.