Editors Note: This article was originally published on Todd’s website about modern-day sainthood: www.sainthoodandsurrender.com
St. Francis is my Confirmation saint. I love the guy. Loved his life, loved his mission, loved his total abandon. By the outpouring of people that are following in his footsteps, I’m not the only one.
One of the things that I love is the prayer that is attributed to him because I think that it shows the absolute holy foolishness of Creation that our world still has not figured out. When I was acting I started to develop this habit of saying the Prayer of St. Francis every night before I went on stage. It became a routine and it was funny that as I progressed as an actor I learned that it was only through giving attention, laugh lines, and even the stage to others that I became better at what I did.
It works in human nature as well. Think about it.
- You tear muscle to build it up.
- You do better at a job when you are willing to work with and for others.
- You are more likely to have people help you when you help them.
- You are funnier when you are not trying to be.
- The more that you give up your own interests, the more you are loved.
This repeats itself throughout history and we are insane people because we refuse to acknowledge it, much less live our lives by this standard. What would happen if we just decided to serve the needs of others? Not their wants, but their needs?
What would happen if we started to offer our help to others with no motive for getting anything in return, nothing at all? Can we rely on the generosity of others? Can they be generous if we completely give of ourselves? I mean really truly give?
What would that even look like for us as Christians?
So many times when I see the Twitter statuses fly by or read a blog here and there I come across people who seem to be giving of themselves, but I wonder if they are giving, or pretending to give and serve so that down the line their agenda gets served. There are a lot of times when I have to ask myself the same question.
Is the Sainthood Project really about people becoming everything they can through the Grace of God? If it is, why am I worried about controlling certain aspects of it?
I don’t know if you know this, but anyone who reads this website, has a right to copy anything I write and use it anywhere. Put my name on it if you want, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. The reason for this is that it would seem crazy and hypocritical if I acted like anything I wrote was “mine” when I just want it to be God’s.
That’s a struggle for me because I struggle with pride. Sure I want recognition. Sure I want to be known as the “guy who wrote that thing.” In the end, if you as a reader are inspired and get to Heaven, does it matter?
So as a Christian, as a Catholic, I think we need to practice giving like this:
- Recognize that your agenda is your agenda and God has other plans. There are people with free will and intellect and desires that you don’t understand. Even if they are your spouse. Seek to understand them, to know them, and to give them what they need to get to Heaven. Your plans don’t enter in to it so stop trying to manipulate the world to fit your narrow view.
- Be a magnet for joy. You want to know why the same people are always griping and complaining about the world? Because they are drawn to each other like flies to dead meat. Give your joy away and when you think that you have run out, pray for the Grace to give more away. Become a joy magnet.
- Pray for that guy who just cut you off. Instead of sitting there and deciding that a certain person is sure to go to hell because they didn’t fulfill your requirements for Heaven, pray for them. Really truly pray for their peace. Then help them with their needs.
- Offer to pray for every person you meet. You should be known as the person who asks everyone what they would like you to pray for. You are going to be surprised at the response you get.
- Help the frustrated. Are you upset that you don’t have enough time for your own agenda? Then you need to spend more time praying and more time helping others when it has nothing to do with you. I think you’ll find that you are wasting a lot of time doing things to procrastinate when your time is occupied by the needs of others.
Remember, when in doubt… give!