It's easy to fall into thinking in “once/then” terms when it comes to holiness.
This kind of thinking can sound like "Once I figure out my vocation, then I can really pursue sanctity!" or "Once I get married, then I’ll get serious about my faith." or "Once the kids get older, then I’ll start praying more regularly."
Thinking in this way reveals an underlying belief in an insidious lie though. The lie tells us that until our life circumstances match what we perceive a life of holiness to look like, we can’t become who God is calling us to be - saints!
But the truth of the matter? It's that everything in our life can bring us to God! There is nothing missing from what God has provided for you to be totally and completely given over to Him.
Today, right now, in this moment, you have everything you need to be a saint.
Even if you haven’t gotten married or become a priest or religious yet, or you haven't had children yet, or you haven't figured this or that out yet…It doesn’t mean you can’t pursue holiness. God has made each of us with the highest possible dignity, and He calls and equips each and every one of us for sainthood.
This is the consolation of the universal call to holiness which St. John Paul II helped to accentuate during his papacy. The exhortation to "Become who you are" was one he frequently used to encourage people. It’s a statement which might sound kind of confusing at first though, right?
If I am, then how do I become? I am already! What’s going on here JPII?
The answer lies in the Catholic both/and paradox: we are both who God is creating us into and we're collaborating with Him in that process. We're both the artists co-creating with God and we're the subject, the work of art.
We can cooperate with God and the many graces He gives us to become all that He has created and called us to be.
With this grace working in our lives, we each have the capacity to look deep within and radically overcome the personality difficulties, quirks, and imperfections we find there. The process is messy at times, and one that might require help along the way to see internal roadblocks preventing us from moving forward on the path toward sanctity. But God's grace is bigger than our past, and can overcome anything standing in the way of our becoming who we are meant to be.
Through our pursuit of greatness - of sainthood in the here and now - we become the witnesses the world needs. When we have joy and we are great because we're following the path of Christ, then others will come to believe that Jesus is real and that the Gospel message is true.
So whoever you are and whatever your state in life, put “Saint” in front of your name. What’s it like for you to think of yourself as a saint? Because that's the fullest identity of who God created you to be.
We're not there yet, but hopefully we're all on the road to becoming who we truly are!
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