The Problem with Sainthood
Snapshots are fine. They capture a moment in time. When they are viewed the viewer can conjure up either memories or create a possible story around the image. Even if one is in the snapshot, the memory of the event now frozen in time by the picture can be edited. In fact, experts tell us that every time a memory is brought back into our conscious mind it is edited by the circumstances of the moment. The snapshot does not change, the memory does.
What does this have to do with sainthood? Saints become like snapshots for us. The character of the saint becomes frozen in time. We do not see how that person would adapt to current conditions. The saint in our mind cannot evolve and often does not have any flaws.
Almost universally, the saint is thought to have a spirituality that is greater than our own. Their qualities become standards by which we feel we are judged. I am not talking only of those who have been canonized by the church. The same is true of our “sainted” fathers, mothers, siblings, etc. Because they are now flawless, we bear the blame and shame of not being able to attain their standards or what we perceive and remember their standards to be.
This is often a subconscious process. We crave acceptance from someone who is no longer able to give it. Because we cannot know how they would evolve in the current situation, we let them judge us from standards of the past – theirs and ours. As long as we are doing this we can never be absolved of our guilt or shame.
It is even worse when we do not have a living God, one that can understand each new day with its own evolving creatures and ever-changing conditions and give the love, forgiveness and strength for that new day. We are so much better off when we do not let ourselves be judged by those who do not know who we are today. Let your saints and your God be alive and loving, for then they will understand, accept and love you as you are now.