A Good Catholic? Or a Saint

shutterstock_149102147I’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.

Haley Stewart


Haley Stewart is a writer, speaker, blogger, Catholic convert, mother of three, and wife to Daniel of the big beard and the green thumb. She’s a homeschooling, bacon-eating, coffee-drinking southern girl with a flair for liturgical feasts and a penchant for bright red lipstick Haley muses about faith, motherhood, and books at her blog Carrots for Michaelmas and is the author of Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year. She also podcasts at Fountains of Carrots.

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  • Kamots

    A must read the book Holiness — a guide for beginners by Dom Hubert van Zeller

  • Jeni

    Funny I also had a book to recommend. Consoling the Heart of Jesus. It helped me overcome my fear of suffering (for sainthood) that I incurred after *almost* losing Josie, my firstborn. Every time I’ve offered something to God it seems He takes me up on it. Before my oldest was born, when I was pregnant, I remember being intensely in prayer in adoration and feeling God asking me for her. And full of warm fuzzy feelings I said yes only to have my newborn suddenly on death’s door weeks later and me begging her back again. I don’t think God punishes us or at least was punishing me, but He wanted to use it for redemptive suffering or to heal my heart by breaking it first. I have never had such deep empathy as after her birth and struggles for life and I continue to learn empathy.

    Be careful what you offer up though! I could tell so many stories. When I’m afraid and get stuck not wanting to risk my warm comfort for sanctity, I learned to pray the easiest prayer–“Your Will God.” I don’t know what God’s Will entails for me but we know He uses all things for good and loves us intensely. Works for me.

    Nice one Haley. Great reminder this morning where I struggle with just doing little acts of love before my caffeine kicks in.

  • anonymous

    it IS scary. “Don’t be Afraid” Not easy. VERY scary. “Jesus, i trust in you.” ‘I’m sorry, apart from you let me never be’ perhaps that’s where ‘have mercy on me’ came from. Every thought can go on forever. Veni Sancte Spiritus, and God, please keep your hand on me. it’s a complete trust one wants so bad it burns – the path one wants to go down. that place one wants to stay. my prayer, to move beyond that fear–quit thinking of myself – ya know, to just plainly LOVE MORE than i fear. that’s where it is.

    that question, is one in HIS grace? i sure don’t want to be out of HIS grace.

    Control, ha! what would this world be like if we genuinely/interiorly knew WHO did have control?

    thank you ~

  • JMC

    Sometimes God does push the “suffering” button, but other times, it seems He doesn’t. You don’t perceive any change in your actual situation, but your attitude undergoes subtle shifts. The suffering literally seems to become easier to bear, and you wonder if God didn’t actually take away some of it instead of increasing it. And maybe He did. Maybe all He wanted was that surrendering of control that such an offering entails. And let’s face it, loss of control is the greatest source of suffering for most of us.

  • tacy

    I love the name Lucy, for both of the reasons you name, as well!