Last weekend we did our annual combined Fall Retreat. The theme was “Live Out Loud,” and it was all about answering Jesus’ invitation to “follow Him” (Matthew 4:19). In preparing for the retreat, the Holy Spirit led us to focus on those people who have answered that “follow me” call – the Saints (and not the Football team, although they are awesome! Geaux New Orleans!)
One of the other youth ministers who was bringing teens to the retreat was giving a talk specifically highlighting some of the Saints. When we were praying about what it should look like, he said something to me that renewed my hope of getting to Heaven.
“Heaven is full of saints with a little ‘s’ – they don’t have a feast day and they are not the patron of anything, but they made it!”
Wow! What an awesome thought! We do not have to levitate, heal lepers and smell like roses to be a saint. What freedom! What permission. That quote hit me to the core of everything that I’m afraid of when I think about being “holy.” Being a saint is not reserved for the lucky few, but the call for each of us.
As I continued to reflect on that thought, I began to realize that the Saints, with a big “S,” (you know, the feast day ones) were just ordinary sinners like you and I, who struggled in prayer and struggled answering the call to “follow me.” They just picked themselves up and continued on when they fell on their faces. They became a reflection of Christ in their world by doing ordinary things with love. In fact Mother Teresa said, “I don’t do great things, I do small things. They just seem great because there are so many of them.”
As baptized Catholics and Christians, you and I have everything we need to become saints; whether we become the patron of something like procrastination or not, isn’t important. We received everything we need at Baptism to get to Heaven. So how do we stay connected daily to that Baptismal grace?
The most obvious way that we can become saints is through prayer. Developing our relationship with God by inviting Him into our everyday lives and moments, by allowing Him permission to lead us. We tend to overcomplicate what prayer is and what it isn’t. But it boils down to an invitation to the God of the Universe to be part of our lives. “Until you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will not find time for prayer.” Father Hilary Ottensmeyer, OSB
The saints became saints by revolving their lives around the Sacraments (particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation). My old pastor use to say often, “When we consume the Eucharist, He consumes all in us that is not Him.” We become saints by allowing God to consume us and transform us in the Sacraments. Go to Mass as often as possible and be reconciled in confession as often as needed.
My dad always told me “You are who you hang out with.” We really become the people and think like the people we surround ourselves with. Immerse yourself with people who love God and center their lives on Him. If you do this, you will naturally begin to think more about holiness and your relationship with God.
Don’t complicate things. God is lavishing your life with His love at every turn. It is in the everyday, simple things like your kids tugging on you for attention or your spouse saying you’ve not been present. It is in the everyday, ordinary moments that God is inviting us to become holy – to become saints.
You and I most likely will never have a feast day in the Liturgical Calendar of the Church. Thousands of years from now, people may not carry around our prayer card in their Bible, and we may never be declared a patron of anything. But we have everything we need to get to Heaven. Every day, when we wake up, we can renew our answer to Jesus when He says “Come, follow me.” And it is in our response to that question, in ordinary ways, that you and I can become Saints – with a little “s.”