Recently I attended daily Mass at the Catholic school I work at and had a nice chat with the priest afterwards. We were talking about Christmas approaching and the topic led to family life and motherhood, which ultimately led to Mary. I told him that the strength that Mary had at the cross, to watch her son die for us is something that I can honestly say I would struggle with. No mother can imagine losing a child, let alone witness their death in such a brutal and inhumane way. How did she go on? How did she live the rest of her days with that kind of pain? I stated I would never be able to do that, I could never bear that pain. He answered with “The grace of God would give you the strength needed.” I smiled and said “Mary is a saint, the most divine woman who ever lived, there are a lot of differences between her and I.” To which he responded, “All the saints were as human as you.”
A new year brings a new sense of motivation. I mean it’s another chance to do right, grow, change, learn a new hobby, take up a new skill, it’s a chance to be the person we always wanted to be. Each year I try to spend December 31st in reflection. I try to think of the times during that year that I have struggled the most, learned the most or enjoyed the most. I think of those who have supported me during that year and make it a point to tell them thank you. I mentally make a few “resolutions” and then spend the first few days of the new year working towards them until they eventually fall out of sight and out of mind.
I tend to set myself up for failure each year by choosing resolutions that conform to what society thinks I should be changing, but never take into consideration what Christ is asking me to accomplish each year; sainthood. Now believe me, no one is more terrified at the idea that we are all called to be saints than me. I mean talk about pressure! I’m a normal person. I sin, I become discouraged, I doubt, I have anxieties and things that I know I need to change, there is no way that God wants me as one of his saints. How can I rank among the “chosen” ones?
It’s easy really. God’s love for us is enough. It’s enough to swallow up that doubt. It’s enough to make a humble sinner into a mighty saint. It’s enough to purify our hearts, strength our minds and mold us into the faithful follower that we are called to be. Through his love, we can all achieve sainthood. And how do we know this? Because every single one of us is called to sainthood. Not just the holiest, the most devout or the “best Catholic you know.” Nope, He called all of us.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
All the saints were human. They struggled, they felt pain, anguish, had sorrows and difficulties, but they all were set apart by their love of Christ, their obedience and their trust. We focus so much attention on things this world tells us we need: more successful job with more money, a bigger house, nicer cars- yet all of that pales in comparison to what we are truly called to be, and that is followers of Christ.
This year my resolution is simple. I will remove a major roadblock from my path to sainthood; myself. I will remove my insecurities, my doubt and replace it with trust. Trust that I am strong enough to do God’s will. I will listen to the scripture, the promises and the words that God has given us. Instead of telling myself that each saint contained some sort of superhuman strength and ability, I will instead remind myself that they were human, just like myself. I will stop telling myself it’s impossible and instead ask God what He wants from my life. The saints remain our constant reminder of what happens when we put God first and ourselves second, and I believe that each and every one of you has that in you- make today another step towards your sainthood!
Reflect: What do you typically make as a resolution in the New Year? What can you do to change that to something that brings you closer to God?
Act: Choose a new saint each week during the month of January to pray to, learn about and reflect on.
As 2016 comes to an end, make a list of people who have remained your support, your backbone through their year. Write a note to three people on your list. Tell them how much their love and support means to you. Ask them to pray for you in the new year.