Sometimes being labeled a saint can seem like a privileged status that is beneficial to the people that are canonized.
However, saints don’t gain anything from our veneration, as they already possess the eternal bliss of Heaven.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux offers a beautiful reflection on this reality in a sermon that is featured in the Office of Readings.
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of [All Saints] day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honous when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.
Who benefits from our veneration of the saints?
St. Bernard explains that we are the primary beneficiaries of the veneration of the saints.
Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints.
Whenever we call to mind the saints, celebrate their feast, or even erect a statue, it helps us long to be united with them in Heaven and to imitate their example on earth.
The saints don’t need anything from us, but we are in need of anything that can lead us closer to Heaven.