September 4, 2016

How to Become a Saint in Four Steps

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.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!


Anonymous said...

How do you do that while living in the world? The world of work and family demands that we take up our crosses but how do you find enough time to pray?

1 Franciscan Way said...

I would submit but it's not about having "enough time" to pray but it's making prayer a priority and making it count, so to speak. Even living active religious life it can be a challenge. Have you ever heard the rocks in a jar story about the important things in life? You put the big things (rocks) in first and then the other things fill in around it (pebbles and sand). In the case of a life of discipleship, the jar itself is your prayer and it orders your priorities that are within it. I know lay people living in the world who model this beautifully. Some of them have made their own "order of the day" that includes set times for prayer. Of course things come up, but when the routine has prayer 'written in,' it becomes the norm and is interrupted less frequently. Perhaps it involves praying on the way to work? Maybe it involves prayers and intentions offered during the 'normal' things of life (ie. while I brush my teeth, I will pray for this person...when I change a dirty diaper, I will pray for that person). I scrubbed floors for seminarians for years and it bore fruit for them and for me. Just a few recommendations, but a good spiritual mentor can help you assimilate these things more specifically to your circumstances. God bless you!