Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bullet Points to Sainthood

Reposted and revised for new Sky View readers:

Every November the Church celebrates All-Saints Day. The timing of these two Holy Days being celebrated in the same month may be incidental. Nevertheless, it is true to say that heroic virtue among the Saints is but the fruit of Christ’s coming into this fallen world of ours.  

The lives of the Saints are the continuation of Christ’s life throughout history. And as it regards to the times and circumstances in which we live, the invocation of the Saints, studying their writings, reflecting upon their lives and imitating their virtues will be key in renewing the Church and saving Western Civilization, if it is to be saved.

As with any demographic or society, the Saints that the Catholic Church has held up as heroines of the Faith possess certain traits. Some are obvious and yet others are not so obvious. Here are just a few bullet points to Sainthood worth considering.

• Believe that it is possible to become a Saint. You can't be a Saint if you do not believe that it is possible.

• Will to become a Saint. Your desire is half the work.

• Chief among any ambition or enterprise should be the desire to glorify God first and foremost. All great initiatives flow from this. St. Benedict never sought out to lay the foundations of a new Christian civilization, but that is what he did by desiring to glorify God. St. Ignatius of Loyola set out to magnify the Lord in his spirituality, but the unintended consequences led to the needed reforms in the Church. As our Lord said, seek the kingdom of God and everything else will be given to you.

• Believe that everything that happens to you comes from the hand of God. Every circumstance is either positively willed by God or it is permitted. As Job said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Notice he didn’t say that evil men or Satan has taken away, but the Lord has taken away. Everything that happens in our life- good or bad –is part of an intelligent design. All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord. This is why the Saints, when confronted with the worst of circumstances, respond with calm determination.

• As such, will what God wills. This is very difficult in times of trial but it has a purifying effect. Indeed, do God’s will with joy in both disagreeable and agreeable circumstances while accepting all things with equal reverence. St. Paul said, "I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." And in the book, The Dialogue, God tells St. Catherine of Sienna that his servants accept all things with equal reverence. Their discerning eye sees everything as being ordained by Divine Providence. God the Father goes on to say that the faithful disciple of His Son "holds all thing in reverence, the left hand as well as the right, trouble as well as consolation, hunger and thirst as well as eating and drinking, cold and heat and nakedness as well as clothing, life as well as death, honor as well as disgrace, distress as well as comfort. In all things he remains solid, firm and stable, because his foundation is the living Rock."

• The Saints see and love Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. From this Eucharistic devotion, they are inspired to also reverence him and love him in their neighbor; especially the needy and the poor. It was said that Blessed Mother Theresa bowed when being introduced to people. For her, bowing was a way of showing reverence to Christ in others. Moreover, serving poor was her way of serving the Lord. It should be noted, that every canonized Saint loved the poor!

• Avoiding detraction, slander or gossip is also a common virtue among these holy men and women. They call us to give people the benefit of the doubt. Constructive criticism or confrontation should be used, as our Lord used it, for the good of souls and the common good. And as for those in authority or those who are in a position to do something about it, sometimes the bad behavior of others needs to be discussed in private. However, we become liable to gossip or slander when we are in no position to alleviate the misdeeds that are being discussed. Then, such chatter are nothing but idle words of which. according to our Lord, we will have to give an account.

• When rejected, reprimanded or humiliated, the Saints teach us to accept it with joy knowing that this is a participation in the Passion of our Lord Jesus. This, I know, is exceedingly difficult. But to merely tolerate opposition and rejection will wear us out. We have to take it a step further and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the kind of joy the Apostles experienced in the book of Acts. We can then see ourselves being conformed to the likeness of Christ when we are treated like him. This is the reason, in part, why the Saints say that the most efficacious meditation is that on our Lord's Passion.

• Every week or every day, practice acts of self-denial for the conversion of sinners. Our Lady of Good Help told Sr. Adele Brice that to receive Communion is good, but not enough. She wanted Catholics to offer each Communion for the conversion of sinners. These spiritual sacrifices offered on behalf of souls fosters a spirit of sacrifice which, in turn, expands our capacity to love.

• Pray in solitude and in silence on a daily basis. Some confine their spirituality exclusively to communal prayers with others. Both private and communal prayers are needed but having that alone time with the Lord is a must. Indeed, prayer is the most important thing you can ever do in your life. Gathering at the altar presupposes that we have an ongoing conversation with Him.

• Lastly, engage in spiritual reading. Read Scripture and the writings of the Saints. So many Catholics omit this in their prayer time. They want to do all the talking. But wisdom comes in listening to the Lord. Through spiritual reading you will hear the voice of the Lord about those particular points of your life.  From opening our ears to God's voice comes self-knowledge. Knowing ourselves as we really are in the light of God has inestimable value. This is why an examination of our conscience is important. The Saints have found great peace and liberation knowing that they, because of their sinfulness, are nothing without God; yet, at the same time, this inspires gratitude for their dignity and purpose they have in Christ.

The bottom line is: Sainthood is for everyone! Again, the first step in becoming a Saint is to will it!! By far, this will be the most powerful instrument of the New Evangelization. And in our daily striving to become a Saint, that is, in conforming ourselves to the image of Christ, we will become what we ask God to make us at every Mass: “An everlasting gift to the Lord.” It doesn't get any better than that!