You have to be made of tough stuff if you want to become holy. I was going to add, ” in this day and age;” however, when I read about the Saints and Martyrs of long ago, they also endured tough times – even more so than today. They were often trying to avoid physical torture, imprisonment or even death for their beliefs, whereas today, (at least in the United States) we have laws and rights allowing us our religious liberty without fear of governmental punishment. Unfortunately, our country is starting to become one in which our freedom of religious expression is being put on trial.
We hear about minority groups being “offended” or insulted by someone’s particular beliefs and usually, these groups are ones who have infiltrated large organizations who have some kind of influence on the media. It used to be that media reported news fairly and impartially; that is far from the truth in today’s world. Whatever particular agenda these groups have, they are able to manipulate those in their control to get that message out there to the public. Media, politicians, Universities and even religious sects can bombard us with so many versions of “the agenda” we become immune or worse, start to believe what they are “selling.” Being told things like moral relativism should be embraced, everyone can believe and live however they feel is right, and seeing violence, poverty, sexual impurity and hate, on a daily basis, is Satan’s way of manipulating our thoughts and minds. Those of us, who are trying to become holy, do not have to deal with the threats and punishments saints of the past had to; however, today, we are fighting with the torturing of our minds and death of our souls if we aren’t careful. With all of these influences, there is no way we can achieve holiness by our own power.
God created us to be saints. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2013) states, ” All are called to Holiness.” Only with God’s grace can we become saints. We must cooperate with God and follow where he leads, even in our ordinary ways of life. God is interested in our friendship and love. We must spend time with God in order to develop that friendship and love he so desires of us. Tuning out, turning off, and letting go of our technologically driven life for a few minutes each day will allow us to draw closer to Him. How can we expect to develop a friendship if we don’t give our undivided attention to Our Loving Father and His Son each day? It is often said that God speaks to us in a whisper. If we have everything “turned on,” how can we expect to hear that whisper amidst the chaos? Many times, people say they cannot be alone or they cannot stand the silence, I wonder why. Learning to be alone, not always having to be “doing” something, embracing the silence, and allowing yourself to be open to drawing closer to God and listening for that whisper will change your life. With these little changes in our behavior, we learn that, “To be a saint requires nether extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms.” Pope Benedict XVI We only have to let God work through us – who’d have thought it would be that easy!
Once we have allowed God to work through us, truly guiding our lives, we can begin to grow in holiness and understanding that God has always been with us. We begin to understand that there isn’t a single moment God is not communicating with us in some way. He may use nature, interior thoughts, a loved one or friend or any particular event. As we grow deeper in our Spiritual life, we will realize that every event is a word of God to us. He is in everything that happens and it requires a deep faith to recognize Him in everyday, ordinary incidents. It is difficult to think that the God of the Universe can be present in our individual daily lives. We expect to see a heavenly Christ who reigns above all; however, to believe God can be so human and involved in our mundane lives is not only difficult for us, it was difficult for those during the early Church.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus returns to his native land and those who knew him couldn’t accept that he was truly the Son of God. They questioned how he gained his wisdom, how he could perform his mighty deeds, wasn’t he just a carpenter, a relative of many and was born the son of Mary? They had Jesus right in front of them and couldn’t see Him for what he is! They couldn’t accept his humanity and the influence he could make upon their lives. We may do the same thing by not recognizing someone who is saintly among our acquaintances unless they do something extraordinarily holy. We have difficulty believing someone we know could be so ordinary could be so holy; unless of course, they suffer piously or we discover something about them after they die that elevates them to “sainthood” in our eyes. We must remember that our faith teaches us that Christ lives within our hearts and we should pray for our eyes to be opened to seeing Christ in others, even those who may bother us, annoy us or even be related to us! Let us remember to take the time to tune out Satan’s distractions and develop the friendship and love for God our Father and Jesus Christ his son. Once we can do that, we will see the world and God’s people in a whole new way!