All Saints Day

All Saints Day

The Church gives us today the “Beatitudes” as an explanation of our celebration of All Saints Day. This is good, because the beatitudes present us with such a kaleidoscopic vision of what it means to be a saint: saints can be poor in spirit, or rich in persecution, meek and humble, or zealous fighters for peace, etc. So of the many things we could say about saints and holiness, the beatitudes show us that not all saints are the same; in fact, the contrary is true: every saint is different, no two saints are alike! Probably we haven’t thought of this too much, but if we want to be saints, we have to be… ourselves!  Not ourselves with our sins, but ourselves as God created us to be, the “you” God dreamed about when He created you. Matthew Kelly calls this “becoming the best version of yourself”, not of someone else. In fact, one of the effects of sin is when we try to be someone else, someone God didn’t create us to be: when we think we will be happier if we are like this or that “successful” person, or “movie star”, or whoever: we don’t accept the way God made us, and then we try to be like someone else, out of vanity, or pride, or jealousy or envy. Two good examples of this. This first is from Jean Guitton, in his My Philosophical Testament. In it he imagines his own death, and at one moment, while he is speaking with his Guardian Angel, he says that the most terrible thing about dying is having to look back over one’s life and seeing what a great life it would have been if he had become the “Jean Guitton” that God created him to be! Another example is from G. K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy.  He writes about the text which says that the lion will lie down with the lamb. “But remember that it is constantly assumed … that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal imperialism on the part of the lamb… the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is–Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved.” It doesn’t matter if God made us to be a lion or a lamb: both can become saints, if we try to do this according to God’s plan. A very great lesson about saintliness: every one of us can become a saint, but only if first we accept ourselves and how God made us, and then, try to become that person God created us to be. Let us remember that!

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