I’m pretty sure that most kids, when asked, would not claim to want to be a saint when they grow up. They may choose a police officer, a doctor, a nurse, a vet, a teacher, a chef- of course- but a saint? No. Likewise, most adults when asked if they are “saint material” would probably tell you that they could never be a saint. After all, aren’t saints perfect? Aren’t they only priests and nuns? They weren’t sinful, never made the wrong decisions, and always put God first in everything they did, right?
Those that the Church recognizes as Saints are people who have tried their hardest to do the will of God, to become holy, to live a good life, and to be virtuous (St. Rose of Lima is one). Still, there are others who lived extremely sinful lives, recognized their faults and changed their ways, proclaiming that indeed they wished to be holy and become a Christian only to be promptly killed for their newfound faith (St. Genesius is one). Still others started out very sinful, even persecuting Christians, before they discovered the error of their ways and not only changed their ways but are saints we call Doctors of the Church (St. Augustine is one). Most saints have struggled with real life issues, doubts, and worries. They have been abandoned by others who think they are “too holy” or “different” or “strange”. They have been ridiculed for their beliefs. They have fought their desires for sinful things to stay holy. Often they have failed over and over again and yet, still, despite all the obstacles they continued to try.
We are all called to become saints. The problem we often face is the sacrifice it takes to become a saint. It’s hard work to live a virtuous life. While we live in the world we are not supposed to be of this world. How can we do this? As my husband said to me, “I’m not a priest, I’m just a guy, there’s no way I can be a saint.” Of course this led to our conversation about how even if we think there is no way we could possibly become a saint it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. God calls us to perfection. He calls us to be like Him. He wouldn’t call us to this if it weren’t possible. Sure, we don’t have to be perfect to become a saint but we do have to try to live our lives in a way that says, “I belong to God. I want to be like Him.”
If becoming a saint involves so much hard work, so much sacrifice, so much of losing ourselves for others why in the world would we want to do such a thing? The answer lies in the fact that each time we put God first and put others first we draw closer to Christ. Our goal in life is to bring Christ to others and to ultimately share our lives in heaven with God. When we live our lives for others we do both of these things. We do have to realize though that the more we try to live as saints the more we will be tempted to turn from God, to give in to sin, to throw our hands in the air and say, “This is just too hard!”
You may be thinking to yourself right now, “Wait a minute! You’re going to tell me that I have to give up “the world”, I have to sacrifice what I want for others, I might be ostracized, and I’m going to endure spiritual attacks if I want to become a saint? There’s no way I’m going to go through that!” My answer to your question would be that yes, this is exactly what you will have to do. However, you can also look at it this way: live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Don’t focus on the other things, just live your life, doing what God calls you to do, and doing it in a way that always magnifies God’s love and goodness. That’s easy enough isn’t it?
Even though we are called to become saints we are unable to achieve this on our own. The grace we need to become saints can only be given to us from God. We can try our hardest to be good enough but without God’s grace we cannot achieve this goal. Therefore, our first goal to become a saint involves prayer, and lots of it! We have to pray that God will provide us with the graces it will take to live our lives for Him.
Often we lose sight of what we should be doing. We fall into sin and we stray from the path that leads us to God. When this happens we shouldn’t abandon our hopes of becoming a saint but we should instead turn back towards God and renew our efforts to live a virtuous life. God is forgiving and welcomes us back and is pleased that we are indeed trying to live our lives for Him.
While we should strive to become saints, our actions should not be done just to become a saint. God knows the sincerity of our deeds and our faith. He can see into our hearts and knows if we are doing what we are doing just to be noticed or if we are doing it for His glory and to be Christ to those around us. While it would be a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Church as a saint we know that there are many, many saints in heaven that are not recognized and more than likely never will be. They are people who lived holy and virtuous lives that we can look at and see God’s love shining in everything they did. We should be striving to be like those whom we see Christ in their everyday lives. They have shown us that living a saintly life is indeed possible.
It’s never too late to live the life that God is calling us to live. It is never too late to become a saint. The question remains are we willing to live that life? Are we willing to give our lives to God, to do His will above all, to sacrifice and to want, to face loneliness and rejection, and to strive to put others before ourselves? It’s definitely not a journey that is easy to take and often the road will be rough, but God will always provide us with the grace we need and the people best suited to help us along the way. We just have to make that choice to start the journey.
…“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”