“We are Called to Be Great Saints. . .Don’t Miss the Opportunity!”
This is a quote from Mother Angelica that she never tired of communicating to us. It was at the “heart” of her public preaching. It was a “battle cry” for our time and something for us to strive for.
But how do we do that? And what is a Saint?
Mother Angelica defines a “Saint” as one who empties himself and takes on the image of Jesus, so that the person and Jesus are look- alikes.
A “Saint” is someone who loves God above all things and loves his neighbor with that same love – with a holy love, a deep love, a persevering love.
Are Saints Perfect?
Mother Angelica tells us that Saints had imperfections. They had faults, temptations and weaknesses and they suffered greatly as well.
St. Therese had tuberculosis and St. Teresa of Avila had cancer of the stomach. St. Bernadette had asthma and Mother Cabrini had high fever due to malaria from her travels.
The battle certainly continues once the person is converted. It’s an ongoing process. So what do we do?
“You’ve Got to Fight for Holiness!”
Mother Angelica gives us more wisdom in the following statement:
“Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable, sweetheart, it’s a requirement.”
So our fight for holiness consists in our day-to-day daily duty. Isn’t that what Our Lady of Fatima told the three shepherd children? To do their daily duty. That daily duty is where we are called to at the present moment. How do we complete that task? Do we do it in love or do we complain? That’s the part that is not negotiable. It’s the acceptance of the present in whatever that may be and making good use of it. It seems to me it’s like storing up treasure in Heaven!
Mother Angelica also tells us that “I want you to have a new concept of holiness. You’ve got to be holy where you are: washing dishes, at the office, at school, wherever you are, you can be holy there!”
Counting the Little Things
We’ve all heard “it’s the little things in life that count!“ What are those little things? Maybe waiting in the dentist or doctor’s office in complete peace rather than impatience and offering those moments up to loving and speaking to God as you wait for your name to be called.
Patience is a big word for me in my own life. For example, it seems that I am always behind the slowest driver in the world and just as the light is going to turn red they somehow put their foot on the gas and blow down the street at record speed leaving me at the red light.
Jesus is certainly testing me here and it is not a coincidence that this happens to me time and time again. Those “little things” are not random events but times for me to be tested and made strong, maybe times for me to become holy. And how many times I fail that test.
Eyes on Jesus
It’s so easy to be distracted in this life and take your eyes off Jesus. Didn’t the disciples do that when they were out on the boat and the wind kicked up terribly? Jesus was watching them from afar. He never took His Eyes off them but maybe they took theirs off His.
They started to look at each other and became fearful, getting agitated in the process. That’s exactly what happens to all of us when we become afraid and lack courage.
St. John Paul II tells us “Do Not Be Afraid!” Doesn’t he echo what Jesus tells us in the Gospel? It seems to me it’s much easier to strive for holiness when I am not afraid of making mistakes; of trying my best and picking myself up after many falls. How did I fall into that big hole in the ground I ask myself many times! I know! I took my eyes off Jesus and trusted in myself and my own will.
My Will vs. The Will of God
Just recently I picked up a book that I’ve had for awhile now. Surely it was God’s timing for this particular blog in helping us understand the road to becoming saints and not missing the opportunity. The book is entitled, Heart of the World, by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
He speaks of prayer and how we can incessantly make requests of Jesus halfheartedly and he cites the following examples:
While one of my folded hands entreats you: “Deliver me from evil!,” the other one is moaning: “Spare me and let me yet have the evil I love!”
While I speak, another voice speaks right along, like a demonic echo: “Your Kingdom come – my Kingdom come. Your Will be done – my will be done. Give me your daily bread – let me have my daily bread.
If I were a Saint, then my voice would perhaps grow silent and I could love you with my whole heart and fulfill your law with a perfect will.”
The Inward Struggle
St. Paul wrestles with the same challenges as listed above in the following scripture taken from Romans: 7:14-25
The Law, of course, as we all know, is spiritual; but I am unspiritual; I have been sold as a slave to sin. I cannot understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the things I want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate. When I act against my own will, that means I have a self that acknowledges that the Law is good, and so the thing behaving in that way is not my self but sin living in me.
The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me – living, that is, in my unspiritual self – for though the will to do good is in me, the performance is not – with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then it is is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me.
In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand. In my inmost self I dearly love God’s law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In short, it is I who with my reason serve the Law of God, and no less I who serve in my unspiritual self the law of sin.
What’s a Person to Do Then?
We’ve been given the Saints for that very reason. We’ve been given shining examples and pathways to holiness. We read of St. Paul’s struggles as he records them in Holy Scripture for our use. He gives us food for thought to dwell on. Scripture certainly is a way that we can saturate our souls with the Word of God. We aren’t alone in this struggle for holiness. We have ways to “ascend that spiral staircase.”
If you read the lives of many of the Saints that have gone before us and even present day saints such as St. John Paul II and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, you learn that they had great devotion to Eucharistic Adoration.
This is a well known and beaten path taken by the Saints before us to help Keep Our Eyes on Jesus and to understand His Will and not our own in our lives.
Quotes from Saints on Eucharistic Adoration
“Our lives must be woven around the Eucharist…
fix your eyes on Him who is the light;
bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart;
ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him, the love of loving Him, the courage to serve Him.
Seek Him fervently.”
-St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
“We must understand that in order “to do,” we must first learn “to be,” that is to say, in the
sweet company of Jesus in Adoration.”
-St. John Paul II
“Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often.
Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit Him rarely.
Do you want the devil to attack you? Visit Jesus rarely in the Blessed Sacrament.
Do you want him to flee from you? Visit Jesus often.
Do you want to conquer the devil? Take refuge often at the feet of Jesus.
Do you want to be conquered by the devil? Forget about visiting Jesus.
My dear ones, the visit to the Blessed Sacrament is an extremely necessary way to conquer the devil.
Therefore, go often to visit Jesus and the devil will not come out victorious against you.”
-St. John Bosco
On Being Called to Be Holy, to Be Beacons of Light
“Jesus is giving you such an opportunity to be holy,
holier than all the saints have ever been,
because the world is in such need of shining lives,
beacons to see by.”
©2019 Anita Guariglia
Photo Credits/EWTN/Mother Angelica
Twins & Beacon of Light Photos/Pixabay
All other photos/Instagram
Scripture taken from The Jerusalem Bible