Monday, May 6, 2013

Say "Yes": Imitate the Saints

Our Lady of Fatima--5.13.13
"Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately:
not to have been a saint.”
-Charles Peguy
The month of May brings us to the midpoint of the Year of Faith.  Like being halfway through Lent, this is a chance to evaluate how our commitments to grow closer to the Lord are going--and whether we are willing to redouble our efforts for the second half of the Year.  The month of May also brings us a theme (in the title above) which might reignite the ongoing conversion and personal transformation God desires for each of us. 
So when you hear the word "Saint," what comes to mind?  If you're like me, then one of your first reactions is probably to say, "not me." But Peguy's insight clearly implies that becoming a saint is a real possibility for each of us.  More importantly, it looks like it is the one thing necessary-- otherwise there would be no tragedy in failing to hit the mark.  The Second Vatican Council repeatedly emphasized this with the phrase "the universal call to holiness" (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 39):  Jesus' revelation is not just for an elite chosen few.  Rather, the Lord insisted, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him" (Jn 14:23).  The invitation is open to anyone who is willing to love him and keep his word.
So how about a little word association:  When you hear the word "Saint," do any of the following phrases come to mind, or are there any others you'd like to add to the list?  Saints are:

  • Sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
  • The light of the world and the salt of the earth.
  • Friends of Jesus.
  • Lovers of beauty, truth and goodness.
  • Agents of the Holy Spirit.
  • Disciples sent to witness.
Saints are also those who take up their cross daily and follow Christ, those who will God's will, those who accept God's word and bear fruit accordingly, those who die to self and so live in Christ.  Saints know the constant temptation of turning in on themselves.  They know all the rationalizations and justifications that entice us to self-absorption (e.g., "God wants me to be happy, therefore I should do whatever I feel like doing...").  But the saint says the deeper Yes, a Yes to the "best version of themselves" (M.Kelly).
Becoming a saint ultimately entails a radical choice for Christ.  It is radical because it goes to the "roots" of who we are becoming.  And it is also radical because it is a choice with eternal consequences:  either we choose our "imperial autonomous self" (G. Weigel), and hence tragedy; or we choose the Lord Jesus, and hence glory.  It's either "my will be done," the arrogant rebellion of the creature over against his Creator.  Or it's "Thy will be done," the humble acceptance of the gift of communion with the Communion of divine Persons. 
This May, let's pray that our Lady of Fatima continues to help her faithful children open themselves to the love of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, who long to 'make their dwelling with us'!