The Call to Be A saint, and the Freedom of the NOW

Awe! All Saints Day! It’s the feast day when we celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us and lived heroic lives of love. Saints loved God, and loved others as themselves. Its so fantastic to look up and imagine them in heaven, loving God, each other, and praying for us.

I’m sure you never have this problem, but sometimes its easy for me to forget one of the most important lessons of this day

We’re called to be saints too. Wait, what?

A Call To Be Great

Do you ever find yourself wanting to just “get by”? How close do I have to be to the speed limit before I get pulled over? What’s the least amount of studying I have to do to pass this test? Whats the least amount of work I have to do without getting in trouble with my boss?

We apply this to our Faith as well. If I obey the Ten Commandments, I’m good, right? If I do my weekly Sunday obligation, I pass the “good Catholic test”, right?

But here’s the thing. Jesus doesn’t just call us to be good. He calls us to great. He calls us to thrive.

We can’t just check off Ten Commandments and call it a day, Jesus tells us to love God, and love our brother/sisters as ourselves.

Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Mt. 5 :38-42)

Jesus ain’t a minimalist. He tells us to turn the other cheek, give more than what we are asked, and literally go the extra mile. He even says “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5: 48)

In other words, don’t just check off a list of stuff. Don’t just be good. Be great. Be a saint.

We Were Made For More

Have you ever meant a really holy person who was on fire for love and the joy of the Gospel? Have you ever just sighed and asked yourself, “How are you so happy, right now?”:

I’m reminded of the Third Order Franciscan Sisters I had the opportunity to work with once in Steubenville. These women worked everyday with the poor, didn’t have much themselves, and yet they were filled with joy. They were filled with joy because they knew God’s love for them, loved God, and loved others as themselves.

In other words, they were seeking to be saints.

We were created in God’s image and likeness. This got distorted when sin came into the word. Sin is a sickness and keeps us from being who we were made to be. But, when we strive to live like saints, we are start to become more like our true selves—the images of God we were made to be.

This is why Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life. And have it in abundance” (Jn. 10:10). Being a saint does not mean you walk around sad, being bitter that you have to follow a list of roles and obligations.

Being a saint means you are acting as the person you were created to be.

Think about it. Has sinning ever made you happy? I’m never happier if I am jealous of someone. I just get angry. I’m certainly not happier after I yell at a co-worker. I just feel guilty and miserable.

But, when I choose to be loving, when I choose to strive to live like a saint, I do feel better. When I patiently listen to a friend talk about his/her bad day, I help them and feel good about myself. When I give some food to the homeless man on the street, I not only help the man, but help myself. Why? Because I am striving to be the person I was created to be.

What A Saint Does

Its kind of hard to concretely explain what being a saint will look like for each person. We can look at the lives of the saints, we can look at the holy people in our lives, but we have to apply what being a saints to our own context.

St. Theresa tells us that holiness (being a saint) is about doing things, little or big, with great love.

If we turn to Paul, we learn the following,

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1. Cor. 13: 4-7)

Therefore,

“A saint is patient, a saint is kind, a saint is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. A saint does not insist on his/her own way, a saint is not irritable or resentful. A saint does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. A saint bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things”.

So, a good way to see how we lived up to our call, today, might be

“Was I patient? Was I kind? Was I envious or boastful, or arrogant, or rude? Did I insist on my own way? Was I irritable or resentful? Did I rejoice in wrongdoing, or did I rejoice in the truth?” etc.

Maybe you don’t have this problem, but when I read this, I get a bit discouraged. Anyone who knows me knows I can be impatient, irritable and a whole bunch of less than saintly stuff.

The Power of the Holy Moment

So, here’s this word of encouragement that I wanted to share with you, which was shared with me a few years ago by my dear friend, Jon Marc.

We don’t have power over the rest of our lives, but we do have power over this moment in time. Living a holy life seems overwhelming, but can we be holy in this moment? Can we love God and our brothers/sisters in this moment I n time and space?

A saint is not someone who just lived a holy life. A saint is someone who consistently lived a series of consecutive holy minutes. When they failed to live a holy minute, they asked for forgiveness and moved on.

Likewise we are called to be saints. Right now. In this moment. Don’t worry about being holy for the rest of your life. Be holy, right now. Say yes to loving God and your brother/sister in this moment, right now. All you have is this moment. So int his moment, be a saint!

If you sin in the next minute, ask for forgiveness, and strive to be a saint the next minute. A saint is just a person that lived a string of consistent holy moments.

This my friends is the freedom of the NOW. You might not be able to control how you act tomorrow or how you acted yesterday, but with the help of God, you can strive to be a saint right NOW

If you feel like you don’t know how to be a saint, then great! The first step to wisdom is, “I don’t know!”. Go to Jesus in prayer, ask Him to teach you. We will only become who we were made to be through the school of prayer.

God bless, friends and happy Feast of All Saints!

And two afterthoughts!

Two things of note:

1. Being a saint is NOT never having an emotion. For example, its normal to get angry at the guy who ran a stop sign and almost caused an accident. Its how you react to that emotion that is important. Choosing not to react out of your emotions is a great virtue, and will not grow unless you have emotions in the first place.
2. Being a saint does not mean you don’t take care of yourself. We love our neighbor as we love ourselves. You can’t take care of others unless you take care of your own needs, too.