|You cannot be half a saint; |
you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.
- St. Therese of Lisieux
However, there is virtually never a time in which there is no need for reform in the Church because although the Church is the Body of Christ, it is also composed of weak human beings who make mistakes. As sinful humans, each one of us is in need of reform and this individual need for reform translates regularly into a need for the breath of the Spirit in the Church as a whole.
Thankfully, we can always trust that the founder of the Church, Jesus Christ, is right here with us, in the middle of the messes we create for ourselves, guiding our Church as our head, through its structural skeleton and leaders, the hierarchy. But all of us, including each member of the hierarchy, is constantly in need of renewal and transformation in Christ. This is why Cardinal Dolan told the USCCB at their General Assembly last November that personal renewal, especially confession, should be a priority for bishops.
This is true for all Christians, in order to speak the Gospel, we must make it our goal to be constantly renewed in Jesus. We must become saints. It is imperative. We constantly undermine the message of the Gospel with our sins. This is a humbling reality, but one that God works through nonetheless.
So, as the Church experiences reforms through the centuries, we too can relate to this need for reform. Every day, we experience ebbs and flows. Ups and downs. Sometimes, we are caught in the downs for days, weeks, months. But inside, we have an interior push for perfection. Perfection not in the sense of stuffing it all in, pasting a smile on our face and pretending the world is rosy. No, perfection in God's sense of the word.
Perfection in love.
How can we strive to be saints? Just the thought of it makes me tired. I am so imperfect, and there is really so much work to be done. But, I tend to think of my life as I think of the Church over the centuries. I think of the many years I likely have in front of me and I just don't have the will or the stamina to even try to become a saint. The thing is, as one wise nun once pointed out to me, God's grace is not in the future. It is in the right now. So, what if we focused on being a saint now? And now? And how about now?
Our days are generally in need of reform, they have their own ups and downs, moment of laxity and moments of fervor. What if we approached perfection in love in bite-sized pieces of reform?
I am going to be a saint during breakfast.
I am going to be a saint as I walk down the stairs.
I am going to be a saint as I greet that person who was rude to me yesterday.
Without worrying about keeping it up, without fearing consistency, what if we just tried to be saints in the now. Forgetting our failures, letting go of our humiliations, allowing our moods to change like children, never holding on to our bad moments, forgiving ourselves and moving on. Like Peter after he denied Jesus, we just need to keep on trying, instant by instant, being gentle with ourselves and begging God to reform us in the moment. And when we fail, we brush ourselves off and try again, the very next moment.
How about starting now? Or now?
You can be a saint now, as long as you truly love God. - Blessed James Alberione