Called to be Saints – in our infinite diversity

Holiness: not one size fits all

Have you ever noticed that things marked “one size fits all” rarely do?

“One size fits all” is simply not the way humanity works.

We’re all quite different, whether it’s the length of our arms and the girth of our waists or the extravertedness of our temperament and the sensitivity of our emotions.

We will all follow different paths, while living different vocations, to the same goal: holiness. Thankfully, we have plenty of indications that this goal is possible despite our differences. When the Church canonizes someone, She is reminding us that our vocation to holiness is within reach for us, thanks to the grace of God.

In all my conversations and experiences, even around the so-called Bible Belt, I don’t often run across non-Catholics who really have a problem with the saints. They may have concerns about praying to them, but those concerns are usually answered when they see that prayer does not equal worship.

Over all, everyone can relate to the importance of honouring those who have gone before us. We do it in secular society when we hold up heroes who have championed causes close to our hearts.

This weekend, the Church will hold up Father Solanus Casey as a reminder to all of us that holiness is possible. He is the second American priest to be beatified this year, following the beatification of Father Stanley Rother in September. When you look at the lives of Father Solanus and Father Rother, you see that when it comes to holiness, we don’t believe one size fits all.

These two men may have lived the same vocation—priesthood—but that path took them in very different directions. Both struggled in the seminary, with Father Solanus eventually being ordained as a simplex priest, a priest who could celebrate Mass but not hear confessions or preach formal doctrinal homilies. He humbly served the poor and sick in New York and Detroit, bringing consolation to those who sometimes simply needed someone to listen and love them. Continue reading

Sources

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Thanks to New Zealand’s CATHNEWS for this interesting article about the call to holiness on the part of all of us who call ourselves Christians. As this article shows, holiness does not call for outstandingly heroic sanctity but rather an openness to God that makes us more available to be of service in the lives of other people.

In recent debates on blogs I am associated with, there seems to be a keenness to point to other people’s deficiencies – as though we are the arbiters of what ‘holiness’ might consist of.  Instead of heeding the biblical principle, that “By their fruits you shall know them”, we sometimes look for flaws in people that we think disqualify them for sanctification.

Here is a seminal paragraph in the original article about these two saints’  lives:

“God doesn’t ask us to become something we are not. He asks us to let grace build on our natures and to let Him work through the raw material of which He has made us. Holiness is not something we put on, but is the perfection of who we were created to be.”

As we journey into the Season of Advent, may we all contemplate the particular service each of us is called into by God, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit to make us whole.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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