"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Advice from My Godfather's Godfather

In the heart of every right-thinking Catholic, God has implanted the desire to become a Saint. Yet few make a serious attempt to realise the ambition. The cause for this is to a large extent discouragement, due to the misunderstanding of what a Saint really is.

What is a Saint? The answer usually returned to this question is: one who does extraordinary penances and works miracles. Now, this is an incorrect description, for neither miracles nor great penances are essential. The man who works a miracle does not raise himself in God's eyes by it; and, while penance in some shape is necessary, still the teaching of the Saints on this difficult question is encouraging.

What they direct is not bodily penances of a terrifying kind, but rather the strict avoidance of delicacies, softness, comfort. We are told to beware of injuring our health, and to eat enough plain food to enable us to work and pray without hindrance. There is ample opportunity for the severest mortification in the restraint of eyes and tongue, and in a warfare against the seven Deadly Sins.

Thus, there is another definition of what a Saint is. It is this: One who, with the object of pleasing God, does his ordinary duties extraordinarily well. Such a life may be lived out without a single wonder in it, arouse little notice, be soon forgotten, and yet be the life of one of God's dearest friends.

It is obviously an encouragement to look on sanctity in this way. When we see that those things which so terrified us in the lives of the Saints, because we felt we could not do them ourselves, are not the important part of their sanctity at all, we should feel heartened to begin to-day and make a serious effort for great holiness. Believe this: it is only the first few wrenches given to the will that really hurt. Perhaps the following words of Cardinal Newman will tempt us to take a step forward on the road:

"If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first do not lie in bed beyond the time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God's glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect."

Read all of Frank Duff's Can We Be Saints?

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