I’ve loved the name Lucy since I was a little girl and read the Chronicles of Narnia. When my husband Daniel and I were blessed with a baby girl, we chose Lucy as her name months in advance. The name means “Light,” and we knew that our child would light up our lives, but I wanted her to be a “Lucy” in honor of St. Lucy of Syracuse, the virgin martyr. St. Lucy’s story is incredible, but her courage is what inspires me. In the face of torture and suffering she is so filled with love for her Savior that nothing can draw her away from Him. I named my daughter Lucy, because St. Lucy (and Lucy Pevensie from Narnia) are brave women of faith. I pray for my daughter to be brave because I am not.
Not only do I turn coward in tiny ways because I want to be likable rather than to speak truth, but I tremble in the face of pain. I agonize over the idea of suffering (although I’m surprisingly tough when it comes to birthing babies). I cling to comfort and security. I am a coward. And I again remembered this during my holy hour recently when I felt prompted to pray for holiness, to become a saint…but I found myself too afraid to say the words.
Because what if God takes me seriously? What if he does give me holiness? What if he makes me a saint? Well, then I would have to suffer, right? Maybe I’m not familiar enough with hagiographies, but I don’t recollect any along the lines of, “St. So-and-so led a charmed life in which everything went her way. She had no major challenges or dark nights of the soul. No one she knew and loved ever faced suffering and they lived long and happy lives. She peacefully passed into Heaven after enjoying moderate wealth and extremely good health.” Comfort does not make a saint.
In The Seven Storey Mountain, a friend of Thomas Merton asks him what he wants to be. Merton responds, “I don’t know; I guess what I want to be is a good Catholic.”
“What you should say“—his friend said–“is that you want to be a saint.”
This hits me right between the eyes. I try to be a good Catholic, but I’m terrified of becoming a saint.
And yet, what do I really expect? That if I pray, “Lord, make me a saint,” he’ll push a “suffering” button and boom! one of my kids will die? Our house will burn down? I’ll get cancer? Of course, during my life, any or all of those things may happen. They could all happen tomorrow. I will suffer. Everyone suffers. But when I obsess over my fears, I forget that God loves me, He desires my good, and He will suffer by my side when the trials come. And praying for holiness does not, as I sometimes imagine, turn over control of my life from myself to God. My life is already in his hands, whether I acknowledge it or not.
And, if I really believe the God of the universe loves me enough to die for me and his heart’s desire is for me to be holy, then I must be willing to share his desire and pray that despite my fear, He will make me a saint.