VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Of the many tasks and challenges before the Catholic Church, the most important thing is to help people be holy, the papal preacher said.

Everything the church does — the sacraments, ministries, documents, pastoral initiatives — must serve this goal, said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, explaining the theme of the Lenten meditations he will offer to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia. The theme of his Friday reflections, held from Feb. 23 to March 23, is St. Paul’s invitation to “clothe yourselves with Christ.”

Saints are regular people, not superheroes, the preacher told the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Feb. 22. Saints are humble disciples of Christ and are “clothed in him,” he said.


One thing that is amazing, he said, is the great variety of different kinds of saints there are.

“God is able to make saints out of all kinds of cloth, to make his flowers bloom in every climate, even the most hostile.”

“Saints are the Gospel lived out; they are the ones who make the church credible,” he said.

Father Cantalamessa said it is important to convey the true meaning of holiness to people and overcome fears that associate holiness with “mortification,” trials and tribulation beyond anything they could ever bear.

Holiness is the perfect union with Christ, when it is no longer oneself who lives, “but Christ lives in me,” he said.

“The church must face infinite challenges and respond to infinite tasks, but, for God, by far the most important thing about the church is holiness,” he said, quoting French novelist Leon Bloy: “The only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”