We must make ourselves into saints – one less sin at a time…
Today, I was praying for sinners, which really means I was praying for all of us!
There is so much that we do to offend God. When she appeared to them in the early 20th century during the Great War, Our Lady of Fatima told the three shepherd children of Fatima that Christ is offended by sins and sinners. She asked them, and us, to pray the rosary and to make sacrifices for the reparation of sins to bring souls to God.
All saints are sinners who commit – through Grace – to become saints through determined and deliberate thoughts, words and deeds that are pleasing to God.
I have recently been directed by a dear friend to read some of the work of a beautiful theologian, Scott Hahn, who has written many books on Catholic theology. In his book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Hanh writes, “The crisis of the Church is not reducible to the lack of good catechists, liturgies, theologians and so forth. It’s a crisis of saints.”
Saint Padre Pio spoke beautifully of the pain of sanctity. He said that Christian life is a “perpetual struggle against self: there is no flower of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain.”
That “price” that Saint Padre Pio speaks of is so compelling to me.
How I long to please God and yet how weak I am and how much I shy away from pain!
Most of my prayers are for protection from pain – Please God heal my friend, please God keep me safe, please God protect my childrem my husband, my family, my friends.
Please God help me.
Please God I cannot go on – Help me. Help me. Help me.
I am afraid of pain. I shun it. At times I try to ask God to do His will – even if that will hurt me and in my soul I am so weak and despairing that instead of lovingly embracing my Beloved, I turn my face away from God. I hold out my hand behind my back, but tremulously – flinching, fighting and fidgiting – dancing it backwards and forwards, pulling it back at the merest whisper of a breeze. I am like a terrified child dreading the cane – trying to be obedient – but so awfully scared of what that obedience will bring me that I cannot bear to look.
How weak I am!
When the early Christians were persecuted under Nero during the First Century AD, they did not fight back – they turned the other cheek – even unto death.
Saint Paul was imprisoned several times and spent years imprisoned and tortured in Rome before his execution, and yet, he submitted entirely to God’s will. At one time, both Saint Paul and Saint Luke – who had been Paul’s disciple, seeing Christ through Paul – were imprisioned in Rome, and while they were there, some misguided Christians attempted to free them by attacking their captors.
Both saints refused to leave their prison! Just imagine that. Their Earthly lives could have been saved – they could have escaped Rome and lived long lives as free men away from Nero’s ire – and yet they stayed within their cage.
The answer is simple… because those great saints saw the truth – there was more freedom inside their Earthly cage doing God’s will and imitating the life of Christ than there could ever be outside it!
Paul wrote, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1Cor 15:51-52).
Saint Paul was so great – so much more great than me. Because unlike me, he did not just write about his faith – he LIVED it… or more accurately – he DIED it! And we do not die for things we doubt!
Strange isn’t it? This formation of saints…
Saint John de Brito was strange as well. Having been imprisoned and readied for execution in India after a lifetime as a missionary there during the 17th century, his executioner hesitated to perform the act of execution. Saint John turned to him and said, “My friend, I have prayed to God. On my part, I have done what I should do. Now do your part.”
He too was a saint who LIVED and DIED his faith.
How could they do that? Really commit to that when the time came to face their end?
Because they KNEW, really KNEW, that God is not a figure from a Celtic myth – He is not one of the faery folk, who act changeably to manipulate humans to their whim. God is no Pied Piper of Hamelin – He does not save us only to demand a price that we could not wish to pay. He asks of us only our LOVE and TRUST in Him.
That is all – No more and no less… Love and trust.
God gives us everything and does not need us to pay Him back as the Pied Piper did – He takes no payment but LOVE and TRUST.
So, as my own words are as clumsy and inadequate as my attempts to please God, instead I will use the words of a truly great saint – Saint Pope John Paul II – “Make yourselves saints, and do so quickly!”
For with prayers for sinners we stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.