Between Easter and Advent is what the Church’s Liturgical Calendar calls Ordinary Time. In Ordinary Time, the Church invites us to live in the everydayness of our lives as Christians. That is, we are to to live in Jesus’ Spirit and in his way as we go about life, work and prayer. Those who live in this way are ‘saints’ according to St Paul. “Saints’ is how he called the first Christians. You and I are also called to be saints to in how we live and move and have our being as Christians in the world.
Often times we think of saints as holy and devout, selfless and generous, caring and merciful men and women whose lives imitate Jesus. We think of how they live extreme Christian lives – fasting often, praying always, and giving of themselves and their possessions to all who need them. Some will lay down their lives for the faith. These are saints the Church canonizes and we have particular devotions to like St Francis of Assisi, St Therese of Lisieux and St John Paul II.
We are told in homilies and through Catechism and church writings that we must live devout, moral lives to be saints. Maybe this is why we do not consider ourselves saints.
But what if St Paul is right — that we are saints because we believe in Jesus and strive to follow him in how we live like him in relation to God and others? Will this insight make a difference to how we think of sainthood? Will we want to live to become saints?
In his video, “What is Stopping Us from Becoming a Saint?” Fr Mike Schmitz challenges us to rethink how we are meant to become saints. Here are some key points he makes (paraphrased):
Being saint seems so out of reach today when we compare to saints from earlier times; it seems easier being a saint then. Yet it is always possible to become a saint, even now.
There are three obstacles we face today and need to overcome to become a saint:
1) We need to overcome our need for instant gratification. We all yearn for this. Being a saint is a process. It will take one many years to become a saint. We call this process santification. We must “learn to love the process” of becoming a saint. It is a lengthy and difficult process. We can resist this and insist it happens now. But becoming a saint takes time and involves challenges. There will be dryness and difficulties but there is always joy and growth.
2) We lack commitment because we live in a culture today that is afraid of commitment. This is because we want to keep our options open. We don’t want to commit ourselves because this closes our options. But to be a saint is to choose God as the only option. It is to give oneself totally to God. A saint is someone who has conformed his will to God’s will. It will cost one everything to become a saint. This is why a saint is someone who says ‘yes’ to God and never stops saying ‘yes’ even if he falls into sin. This is because a saint knows the truth that God is always calling him to be one.
3) We lack a fighting spirit. We don’t want to do extra or do more. We are complacent. A saint on the other hand says, ‘I have a warrior and fighting spirit’. A saint has a courageous spirit that can say ‘no’ to those who will take him away from God. This spirit helps him to commit himself to God. This spirit gives him all the graces to be and live as a saint.
If there’s one reason why I am not a saint, it is because I don’t want to be saint. But God still wants us to be saints.
We need three things to be a saint: (1) to love the process, (2) to commit fully that I am God’s own and (3) to have that fighting spirit to choose God. We can become saints because God gives us the spirit and grace to be his saint.
You can find his reflection below:
Having listened to Fr Mike, I would like to invite you consider these points for your prayer and reflection this week:
- Fr Mike points out how difficult it is for many of us to be a saint today. He identifies 3 obstacles that prevents us from being a saint. Do you struggle with these? Are there any other obstacles that you particularly struggle with as a person with SSA?
- When Thomas Merton, the famous spiritual writer, was thinking of becoming a Christian, a friend of his said, “Why not? Become a saint!” How much do you desire to be a saint? Spend some time with Jesus in prayer and share with him how you feel that God always calls you to be a saint, even when you sin.
- The Christian truth is that God will always call us to be saints. Fr Mike suggests that we can if we choose to (1) to love the process of becoming a saint, (2) to commit ourselves to the truth that we are always God’s own and (3) to have that fighting spirit to choose God’s grace. How do you feel as a person with SSA that God wants you to be his saint? Share with the Lord your feelings and thoughts – what excites you? what challenges you? what graces do you need? why do you want to become a saint? Then, keep quiet and let the Lord speak to you. Listen to what he says.
Words of Encouragement for this week
“We must dare to be different, to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship.” – Pope Francis
These words of Pope Francis express what saints do – they dare to be different to witness to God’s life and love. Let’s pray for each other – that we will dare to be different in the ways God wishes for us as people with SSA — to live and love chastely!