This morning we in the United States awoke with a new addition to our litany of saints. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized by Pope Francis around 10:30 am Rome time, which was the wee small hours of the morning for most of us. Headlines of the secular news swirled in the days leading up to her canonization about her worthiness, highlighting her dark night and other controversies, but the fact is, she is a saint. A saint is canonized not for what he or she DOES but for one reason alone: holiness. A headline that caught my eye and made me laugh was “How to become a saint in four steps” as if it there is one method or a sure-fire way to achieve or grasp sainthood. The article, of course, referred to the process by which a person’s life is examined and the declarations that precede canonization. But I would like to propose that there are, indeed, four steps to becoming a saint, and they are given to us by our Lord in Matthew’s Gospel.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mathew 16:24)
Are those not the “steps” to becoming a saint? You may note, that our Lord only gives three steps. I submit that the fourth step is: repeat. It is following this “recipe,” if you will, that leads to holiness, that is, the perfection of love, and conformation to the person of Christ. The following gives way to union and the union comes through faithfulness to the first three steps and getting up when we fall (perhaps the fourth step could be: reset).
May the life and holiness of St. Teresa of Calcutta inspire us to deny ourselves, embrace the cross, and follow Christ with the same intensity and confidence that characterized her life.