the helm and held fast to the course.
In other words, the saints acted on a desire for God. This desire originated, of course, in God, since it is God who infuses us with a thirst for himself. God makes us want God. This he does in order to draw us to the only source of perfect and complete happiness in the entire universe: the infinite Other, Creator and Father, whose life is Love and whose love is Life. It is God who gifts us with any desire or strength to seek the infinite and eternal, to join into unity with himself and long for everlasting life in Christ, and therefore order our lives according to the charity, purity and holiness required in living as a saint in docility to the Holy Spirit. The saints, then, took up the desire for God by responding fully to God's plan for humanity. That is a crucial concept to grasp, since in God alone, our origin and source, is found the fullest possible dimension of human life.
God has placed a thirst for himself inherently within the human heart, so we would seek out and then find our way to the destiny and goal of human life -- Itself the infinite Love we all unceasingly crave. However, God does not merely call us to a "nearness" with the Divine Mind, nor to simply take his hand, but rather calls us to share in his own divine life. The Creator invites us to become divinized by granting us the ability to participate in his supernatural life, made possible by the saving death of his Son, in becoming his adopted sons and daughters. If we will reflect on that a moment, we can begin to see the wondrous depth and breadth of God's plan of immense love. The fact that created objects and creatures remain unfulfilling is proof of our need for God who alone is superabundantly capable of granting human fulfillment. Everything is ordered toward perfect goodness, toward your goodness! You are called to the permanent reception of divine love! The saints, then, in their free response to the divine call to communion with God, were acting in a fully human way. They said "yes" to Divine Love.
When we speak of the saints' response to the call of Divine Love, we must recognize two important facts: first, all is God's grace. It is God who begets the desire in us for himself and for any good; it is the Holy Spirit who draws us toward Christ, urges us to pray, and provides the means for us to engage in prayer; it is God's love poured out upon us and into us that conceives within us a thirst for love, companionship, intimacy, solidarity, mercy and forgiveness and all other good things. Further, the gift of God's grace cannot be merited; it is a free gift entirely beyond the powers of human nature to obtain. That fact should inflame our hearts with gratitude over God's superabundant goodness.
Second, the saints responded to God's grace. Grace does not destroy the power of human free will. You can refuse to listen, you can fail to respond; and, at any time, however advanced you may be or think you are in the spiritual life, it is always possible to turn away. The importance of a full, free, loving, obedient and continuing "yes" in response to God's call to love during our earthly pilgrimage cannot be overemphasized.
We have spoken about the importance of taking up the desire for God. You must act; that is what the saints did: in a determined and focused way, they marched along in fellowship with Christ, the light that "shines in the darkness" (Jn 1:5). But how do you go about doing that? Specifically, what are you to do in order to respond to God? Here we arrive at what is often referred to as "taking up the means."
The important thing to realize is, God himself has provided a means of salvation, a doorway held open for you through which you are invited to walk a path of light that leads into ever-greater light. The means of salvation is Christ, of course, but there is more to be said, for Christ founded a holy community, his Church, as a means for future generations to receive the truth of the Gospel and the sacraments of life and therefore attain the fulness of God's salvific plan. It is the Church who carries on the ministry of Christ. It is through the Church that we learn about Christ and, in fact, the full truth about the mystery of the human person. In becoming a sacramental people fully incorporated into the Church and into the life of Christ, a people whose life is the Gospel, we enter into the plan of God that is directed toward our permanent reception of divine love. To take up the means, then, is to fall in love with the Person of Jesus Christ -- a way of life and state of existence lived out within the nourishing womb of holy mother Church.
Stated another way, to take up the means is to strive to make Christ's story our own story. It is to embrace God's salvific plan for his people, a plan borne in the Father's heart from eternity, for "God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the 'convocation' of men in Christ, and this 'convocation' is the Church" (CCC 760). It was Clement of Alexandria who wrote, "Just as God's will is creation and is called 'the world,' so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called 'the Church.'"
Do you want to become a saint? To do so is the highest and most fruitful use of your life's energy. It is, in fact, the very thing for which you were created. There can be no greater plan for you than sainthood, sharing in the life of God as a member of the divine family, since there can be no other alternative outcome in your life exceeding the beauty and magnificence of the salvific plan of God's loving goodness. It is the Father's intent for you, one which is rooted in the divine love of God for his children.
Fear not. Everyone has a place; regardless of how you may have lived in the past, there is a future for you in God accessed through repentance. While the path to sainthood will not be easy, and will require sacrifice and determination in living a life of holiness, you will find that in dying to self, in putting sin to death and in living for Christ and for others, there will be an abundance of joy poured into your heart even in the midst of hardship. In the worst of circumstances, the light of happiness will radiate from your eyes. You will find that all things have been made new, even you!
To become a saint is more, not less. Are you ready? Then take up the desire for God; take up the means to God; fill your sails with the Divine Wind of Love who calls you to Himself. Become a saint!
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows the Catholic Church offers the fullest means of salvation; therefore his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: holiness, sainthood, the saints, saints, become a saint, how to be a saint, Church, church, God's plan of salvation, salvation, Christ, perfect happiness, happiness, joy, peace, love, security, F. K. Bartels
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Christmas / Advent News
- A Layman's Plea for Tolerance of Catholics
- A Question For The Christmas Season: Do You Want To Become A Saint?
- Every Leader Supporting Abortion is Herod, Every Child Killed a Holy Innocent
- Feast of St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr, Calls us to Reflect on the Gift of Deacons
- Fr. Sly on the Feast of St John in the Octave of Christmas
- Welcoming the Birth of the Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus was an Embryonic Person
- Merry Christmas: Love is Born on Christmas Morn and the World is Born Anew
- Pope St Leo the Great: Christian, Remember Your Dignity
- Pope Benedict XVI: If God's Light is Extinguished, Man's Divine Dignity is also Extinguished
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?