I think we’ve got the whole "saint thing" wrong in our generation. Many think that becoming a Saint is this extraordinary ideal that only a handful of souls will ever be capable of achieving. That sanctity is a pious thought far out of reach. That as long as one avoids mortal sin and keeps his nose clean, he’ll still "make it" to Heaven—and that is good enough.
But in truth, friends, that is a terrible lie that keeps the children of God in bondage, that keeps souls in a state of unhappiness and dysfunction. It’s as big a lie as telling a goose that it cannot migrate.
THE LAW OF CREATION
All around us is the "key" to becoming a saint, and it lies within creation. Each morning, the sun rises, and it’s powerful rays bring health to all living things. Each year, the seasons come and go, renewing, restoring, bringing to death, and creating again as the planet follows its set course, tilting and rotating to a perfect degree. Within all of this, the animals and sea creatures move according to their God-given instinct. They mate and reproduce; they migrate and hibernate at the appointed hour. The plants grow and produce in their appointed season, then die or lie dormant as they await the hour to bear life again.
There is this incredible obedience within creation according to the laws of nature, the rules of the cosmos. Like a finely tuned piano, each "note" in creation plays at its appointed time, harmonizing with the rest of the living world. They do so by instinct and design, a law written within their being and nature.
Now men and women are the very pinnacle of God’s creation. But we are different. We are made in His very image.
Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 357
As such, we have been given two very important functions in the role of creation. One is to have "dominion" over all that God has created, to be its steward. Gen 1:28 The second function, however, is what separates us from all of creation. Since we are made in God’s image, we are made by Love to love and be loved. This vocation is in fact as natural to who we are as all the other functions of our body. At least, it is supposed to be.
You see, Adam and Eve rose each day with the golden dawn, and moved with the morning breeze among lions, wolves, and tigers. They walked in the garden with their God who walked with them. Their whole beings were devoted to loving Him, one another, and the beauty that was placed beneath their charge. They did not strive for holiness—it was to them as natural as breathing.
Enter sin. My brothers and sisters, we often see sin as a mere action rather than a state of being. Sin, one could say, is the state of losing harmony with creation, and above all, the Creator. Think of a beautiful concerto played upon a piano… and one single note played wrong. Suddenly, the entire song is off-balance to the ear, and the sweetness of the music turns bitter. This is why sin is not only personal in the sense that it affects just me. It affects the entire song of creation!
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God… that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now…(Rom 8:19-22)
What is this mysterious passage saying? That creation is awaiting for the children of God to take their place once again in God’s garden. For man to simply be who he is, living fully in the image in which he was created. Another way to say it is that creation is awaiting for us to become saints. But being saints is in fact the norm, what should be normal to all of us, for that is what we were created to be.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The question arises then, how do I live this norm? The key, the answer, lies in creation. It is "obedient" to its design. The trees unfold their leaves in the spring, not the fall. The planet pivots upon the solstice, not before or after. The tides ebb and flow, obeying their boundaries, while the animals function within the rythms of their delicate ecosystem. If anyone of these aspects of creation were to "disobey", then the balance, the harmony of the song is thrown into chaos.
Jesus came not only announcing the message of salvation to us (for man also has a rational mind through which the will operates according not to instinct, but truth and the choices it presents). But He also showed us the pattern to find our way back to our place in the song of God.
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
Obedience was the pattern Christ laid down for us (as disobedience was the sin of Lucifer, and thus, the sin of Adam and Eve who followed Satan’s pattern, not their Father’s.) But more than following God’s will, Jesus showed us that obedience finds its fullest expression in love. Not a romantic feeling, eros, but a giving totally of oneself, agape. This is what Adam and Eve did moment by moment within creation, breathing in love, breathing out love. Because they were made in God’s image, they did not live by instinct—the law of the creature—but by a higher law: the rule of love. Thus, Jesus came to show us this way again, which is guided by truth, and leads to life. The fullness of life!
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Either Christ’s words are true or they are not. Either Jesus came with the intention and true possibility for us to live normally (that is, to be a saint), or not. It is therefore up to us to believe in His promise—or accept the lie of the one who continues to steal, slaughter, and destroy the incredible vocation that lies before each of us: to be a saint, which again is "merely" to become who we are meant to be.
What caused Adam and Eve to fall out of harmony with God and creation? The answer is that they did not trust. In words that have mov
ed me deeply and convicted me of my own woundedness, Jesus said once to St. Faustina:
My Heart is sorrowful… because even chosen souls do not understand the greatness of My mercy. Their relationship [with Me] is, in certain ways, imbued with mistrust. Oh, how much that wounds My Heart. Remember My Passion, and if you do not believe My words, at least believe My wounds. —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, n.379
Brothers and sisters, a library of books has been written over the centuries on how to become holy, the interior life, the stages of purgation, illumination, union, contemplative prayer, meditation, abandonment, and so forth. Sometimes the very sight of all these books is enough to discourage the soul. But it can all be simplified into one word, trust. Jesus did not say the kingdom of heaven belongs to only those who follow this technique or that, this spirituality or that, per se, but:
Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these… unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 19:14; 18:3-4)
To become like a little child means two things: to trust like a child, and second, to be obedient as a child must.
Now, lest I be accused of minimizing how great is the struggle to become "normal", to become simply who we are in His image (which is to be a saint), one need only understand the other, darker, message of the Cross. And that is how awful and destructive sin is. Sin has shipwrecked human nature to such a degree that the very act of simply trusting our Father has become painfully difficult. But even then, Christ has sent us One who to help us in our weakness: the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and guide. Moreover, if we enter into a personal relationship with God, then the Sacraments, our relationship with Mother Mary, the Saints in Heaven, and with our brothers and sisters in Christ here, they will aid us as we journey back to holiness. To sainthood. To our part in the great song of God.
Rather than think of being a saint as someone who dazzles others by his or her sanctity, stupendous miracles, and mesmerizing wisdom, let us more humbly consider that it is simply to be who we are created to be. You have a precious dignity! Living anything less is to diminish that dignity in which you were created. And to be who are is to live by the rule of love, following God’s will without compromise, and trusting in Him with our whole hearts. He showed us the way, and now remains with us to help us get there.
May the world be filled with such saints.
I AM preparing to leave for France right away to attend the First Sacred Heart World Congress in Paray-le-Monial where the revelations of the Sacred Heart were given to St. Margaret Mary. There will be an enthronement of the Sacred Heart to the world by the local ordinary. It was here, as I have written before, that Jesus revealed to the world through St. Margaret Mary that devotion to His Sacred Heart would be…
…the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy so as to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion. —St. Margaret Mary, www.sacredheartdevotion.com
What Jesus is speaking of here is an era to come in which the Church will live according to this "rule of His love." The Church Fathers have spoken of this period, the popes have prayed for it, and the signs of the times all around suggest that such a new springtime is approaching as we live out the final throes of "winter" in our world.
The Era of Peace, the "thousand year" reign prophesied by St. John that we hope for is simply this: when creation will once again harmonize with its Creator as men and women embrace in trust and obedience their role in creation. Albeit in an imperfect state, the words of the prophet Isaiah and St. John (Rev 204-6) will be fulfilled:
For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of My people be, and My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD and their children with them. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, says the LORD. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapters LXXXI; cf. Is. 65:17-25
Please pray for all of us making this pilgrimage in France. I will bring each of you before our Lord when I am there.