Ah yes, All Saints Day! My favorite almost-in-vogue religious holiday. Also known as “Sugar Rush Hangover Day,” “Throw Away Your Scandalous Costumes Day,” and “Don’t Forget to Confess Gluttony Day.”
As it turns out, All Saints Day is about more than regrets; it’s about celebrating all the holy men and women that enjoy total union with God in Heaven and pray for us to join them on the daily. Today we celebrate holiness, and as the habited battleaxe Mother Angelica was fond of saying, “Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable, sweetheart, it’s a requirement.” Basically, we’ve gotta become a saint or die trying, otherwise we’ve stamped our own ticket.
I know I’ve heard it before: holiness isn’t just for the few, the proud, and the bold. We can’t just leave the deep spiritual stuff to the “good people” like the priests, peer ministers, CCD/Confirmation teachers, and Awakening leaders. Mystic, phenomenal, write-it-in-a-book holiness is for everyone, from the Pope to the coke addict: and that includes you.
“But Jesus, that sounds like too much!” I say to the crucifix on the wall. “I like my comfort zone where it is,” I mumble as I adore Jesus in the Eucharist. Obviously this is stupid. Love can’t be satisfied with just appreciating the beloved; love demands we join our Beloved. Love demands holiness.
But what is holiness? From what the world tells us, holiness is doing stuff: going to Sunday Mass, praying certain devotions, not breaking the 10 Commandments. However, we don’t become holy just by doing certain things; holiness is union with God. Pope Benedict XVI says “Man was created for greatness–for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which he is destined. It must be stretched…”
The real reason our human standards don’t qualify as holiness is because our desires are so weak. Real sanctity looks like this: St. Therese of Lisieux, as a child, was once asked to choose some fabric to play with from a basket. Instead of picking one piece out of the basket like her sister, Therese grabbed the whole thing and shouted, “I choose all!” She then wrote,
“This little incident of my childhood is a summary of my whole life. . . . There were many degrees of perfection, and each soul was free to respond to the advances of our Lord, to do little or much for him, in a word, to choose among the sacrifices he was asking. . . . I cried out, ‘My God, I choose all!’”
Does that scare you? Good.
Nothing unholy can enter Heaven (Rev. 21:27). Jesus Himself calls out the religious people of His day, the ones who were definitely “ok” by their standards. (Matt. 7:21-23, 25:31-46) Becoming holy, or sanctification, is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. For some people it takes the beautiful agony of Purgatory, but this doesn’t need to be taken as a granted. The process of sanctification begins right now, and the only person holding you back is you. If you’re fine skipping Mass for a day, what makes you think you’re ready for an eternity of worship? If you’re not bothered by not receiving Jesus in communion for a day, how will you feel about total union with Him?
Do you want to be a Saint? Like, the kind they name churches and babies and booster clubs after? Then “sell all you have and give it to the poor; then, come follow Jesus.” (Matt. 19:16-30) God wants to stretch your desires infinitely, and I get it–that’s a lot. Where are we even supposed to begin? Well, I’ve got some good news for you. God will handle the process. We just have to abandon ourselves to Him. Ask Jesus right now, what have you still not given to Him? Are you going to make Him tear it away from you? Or will you be like St. Therese?
-Kyle Doud, FOCUS Missionary