To be a saint is the most radical call of all. It is a call to abandon ourselves freely in self-emptying love to God and our neighbor. It is to relinquish our hold on this world so that we may enter freely into the next. In becoming a saint, we are called to give God everything. We can hold nothing back from Him.
In this abandonment, we learn to live in faith, hope, and charity as we become the person God created us to be. It is in giving ourselves completely to God that we are re-made and we enter into the joy He desires to give to us.
The demands God’s love places on us can be very difficult at times. We are fallen human beings who face weaknesses, temptations, trials, illness, and character defects that make our journey arduous. Even when we think we are making progress, we find ourselves slipping and losing ground. It is in these times that we come to depend on God more fully. We see how we are made strong in our weaknesses, as St. Paul reminds us.
By walking closely with God, we come to see how we are loved and how we are to love. Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, describes this loving relationship:
“It consists in the fact that man, through a life of fidelity to the one God, comes to experience himself as loved by God and discovers joy in truth and in righteousness — a joy in God which becomes his essential happiness: ‘Whom do I have in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you….[F]or me it is good to be near God.’ (PS 73 :25, 28) (para. 9)
Knowing and embracing God’s love more fully is a part of our journey in this life. It is His love that transforms us into the saints He wants every single one of us to become.
This radical life of holiness has been lived out by countless holy men and women through the ages. These saints of the Church provide a guiding light as they blaze before us on the trail, showing us the way to the Father. The saints are not meant to be men and women we view at a distance, thinking that being a saint is only for “them” or “other people”. No. Their call is the same call you and I are to answer.
The path to holiness is not something we can do of our own power. In fact, if we attempt it on our own, then we will fail. It is a journey we must walk alongside Christ, since only He can lead us to the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are infused with the gifts of the supernatural, or theological, virtues: faith, hope, and charity. It is these virtues that are the guiding force of our Christian lives. Through faith, hope, and charity we are able to enter into the great mystery of God and grow in ever deeper communion with Him and our neighbor.
Our path to holiness is not something we walk alone. We are united to our brothers and sisters in Christ and they have an indispensable role to play in our own path to sainthood, just as we have an important part to play in their own journey. We easily understand this in married life, but it extends beyond the walls of our family homes and goes out into the universal Church and the whole world. To love as God loves is to love our neighbors as ourselves, even our enemies.
There will be periods of testing and trial in our lives. God allows these times to occur to test our mettle. It is a chance for Him to purify our love for Him.
We often make our own false idols to replace God. Out of love, he must purify us of these barriers to authentic love of Him. By God strengthening our love for Him, we are given greater hope and a deeper faith in Him.
It is not easy, but if we open ourselves up to God’s working our lives, we will come out of periods of trial further along on the path to holiness. We will be one step closer to being the saint God has made us to become.
image: Nancy Bauer / Shutterstock.com / Saints Hildegard, Walburga, Scholastica, Mechtild, and Gertrude