"The highest degree of perfection one can reach in this life is the transformation of God. With time and practice, love can become more intensified. Think of a campfire. Although the fire has transformed the wood and united it with itself, the fire continues to grow hotter and burn. The wood becomes more inflamed, even to the point of flaring up and shooting out flames. The soul too can reach this inflamed degree, so inwardly transformed in the fire of love that it is not only united to the fire but also producing a living flame," (St. John of the Cross, pg. 293).
If you want to be a Saint, love, serve and pray.
3rd Pillar of the Catechism: Living Morally like Christ
1. Read the Ten Commandments. Go to the Vatican's archives. Click on English under the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Scroll down to Section Two: The Ten Commandments. Identify each of the Ten Commandments. Click on the commandment links you want to learn more about. These archives are where you can find more information on all four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2. Reflect on the Saints. In the monthly calendar, click on November 8 and listen to the audio for Saint of the Day. (Blessed John Duns Scotus beautifully defended the Immaculate Conception of Mary whose Feast Day we will celebrate on Tuesday, December 8, the beginning of Pope Francis' declared Year of Mercy.) Go back to the calendar and click on November 25 and read about the St. Catherine who is the patron saint of students.
3. Spend some time exploring virtue and the lives of holy people. You may want to find the Saint of the Day for your birthday, look up what Saints or Virtue mean with a Catholic Dictionary, or listen to a conversation about what it means to be a strong Catholic today between Mike Sweeney, First Baseman of the Kansas City Royals World Series Baseball Champions and His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
"Saints are people who are aflame with the Holy Spirit; they keep God's fire burning in the Church," (CCC 2683-2684). Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks, "Star of the Native People and Bright Light for all! We thank God for your heroic courage, constant perseverance and deep love of the Cross. Pray for us that our love for Christ may deepen. And may we imitate you in following God's Will even when difficulties arise. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen."
As we close this section of study, consider the question: how is faith relevant to my daily life?
- First, look at your habits. Are they good? Are the choices you are making showing love for God? Or, are they showing love for yourself? I was reading the latest thoughts of a favorite blogger of mine. She discussed: 1) "The importance of effectiveness versus love in winning hearts. Regarding effectiveness, think about how much good the Gates' have done with their charitable giving - immoral causes aside. How many lives they must have saved with immunizations and clean drinking water. How the world is grateful for their philanthropy. But then, there is Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. The world is not only grateful to her, but also, deeply, deeply in love with her. Not because of how many lives she saved, which is relatively few compared to the Gates' record, but because of how many people she loved. Because of the size of her heart. Because she was willing to accompany people in their misery, not only with financial support, but with her bare hands. With her very self,") (MNC, CNA). This is the kind of love that St. John of the Cross spoke of - the love that wins hearts and transforms us to God who is love. So often we ask, "How is this relevant to me now?" Maybe instead, we should ask, "How are my habits relevant to my eternal life? Am I settling for being effective? Or, am I living example of love, winning hearts with love?
- Secondly, to bring our faith alive, we must serve the poor. When is the last time you thought of your brother or sister or friend as the poorest of the poor? Think about what you did the last time they came to you with a problem or a question, most likely when you were trying to study, watch television, or just relax or sleep? Were you kind and willing to listen? Sometimes the poorest of the poor are no further than the next bedroom over in our own home. To be a living flame of love and apply faith to our daily life, we must be like Christ, especially when we are disgusted with our siblings or friends. "Instead of trying to accomplish anything through spiritual feelings, put your hands to hard work and practice virtue," St. Teresa of Avila (Bangley).
Becoming a Saint takes practice and hard work and it doesn't happen overnight. I pray that you are always up for the challenge when the poorest of the poor knocks on your door and that your habits reflect a living flame of love.
As you grow in your desire to be one with God, you may want to read an encyclical, a letter from the Pope. Pope Francis' first encyclical of his papacy is entitled Laudato Si, on care for our common home. It can be found on the Holy See's web site under the Encyclicals tab. At the end, the Holy Father has this powerful prayer, "Holy Spirit, by your light, you guide this world towards the Father's love." May the Holy Spirit be our light!
References: John of the Cross Selected Writings by the Discalced Carmelite Friars, A Little Daily Wisdom through the year with Saint Teresa of Avila by Bernard Bangley, Mama Needs Coffee on Catholic News Agency.
Faith Opportunity: Want to serve the poor?