If I told you that the only way you could get to heaven was by flying (without the use of planes or other mechanical devices) you’d probably 1) get mad at the injustice, 2) get discouraged and depressed, or 3) give up before you start. Justifiably so! It’s not fair to expect us to do something that’s impossible for us to do. After all, why would Jesus go to all the trouble of telling us about His Father and His Father’s Kingdom if it’s impossible for us to be a part of it? Ridiculous, right?
Luckily, that’s not how this works. God is loving and merciful. He’s not a torturer (that’s the other guy’s job). God only asks of us what we can do. And, He helps us by giving us His Grace so that our chances of success are even greater.
Yet, some of us still think we can’t become saints.
Here’s my theory why.
I think a lot of us don’t understand what it means to be a saint. No. I’m not talking about the canonization process. Anyone can look that up with a quick internet search. I’m talking about the most basic sainthood there is — being a citizen of heaven. Did you know that everyone in heaven is a saint? It’s true! There are millions of souls in heaven that we may never know about in this life that are enjoying the fullness of the presence of God right at this moment. So, if you think of sainthood in those terms, all of us should have sainthood as our goal. After all, the other option doesn’t sound so good, does it?
If sainthood is our goal, how do we get there? We strive to be holy. But the word, “holy” can put people off as well. It did that to me before I learned more about what true holiness is. True holiness isn’t about perfection. It’s about being open to God and His Will for us. It’s about living the Greatest Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and ”You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s not easy. But that’s ok. Even holy people fall into sin from time to time. But a truly holy person recognizes their own sinfulness and asks for God’s forgiveness. And God ALWAYS forgives us when we ask Him to. Doesn’t that blow your mind? No matter how often we sin, even if it’s the same sin again and again, God still forgives us because His Love for us is stronger than sin ever could be.
So, as we get closer to the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday is March 6th), maybe we can approach our Lenten observance with a different perspective this year. Instead of just going through the motions of fasting and abstaining (giving something up) and assuming that holiness is beyond our natures, let this be the Lent that we actively begin to strive for holiness and sainthood. After all, God wouldn’t ask us to be holy if it was an impossible task.
How have you viewed sainthood in the past? Reflect on your attitude toward holiness and sainthood. Do you need an attitude adjustment? If so, now’s the best time to start.
This blog was written by Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis here at St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re interested in writing a blog for St. Francis of Assisi, please contact Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org.