When I was in high school, I took an anatomy and physiology course from a little, enthusiastic lady who was crazy about science, high heels, and yoga. In her 40s, she would do cartwheels while wearing high heels to demonstrate how gas molecules move! Almost daily, this teacher would assure us that she was just teaching us basic anatomy and physiology; we would learn much more in college. Even though her class was tough, we all worked hard because we knew it was just basic material. At the end of the year, Mrs. Anderson said that she had to apologize to us. You see, she had a friend who taught anatomy and physiology at Loyola Marymount University, and during a conversation with her, revealed that he did not expect his students to learn nearly as much as she expected of us. You can bet we were all proud of ourselves; however, if Mrs. Anderson had told us the truth of her expectations at the beginning of the course, our belief in what was possible would surely have been much lower! We believed we could; therefore, we did.
The same principle applies to our faith life. While we know that we are connected through the communion of saints, we also tend to elevate saints in our mind to a higher, unattainable level of holiness. We think “the saints” have something we don’t, and so it is not possible for us to become saints. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The saints are ordinary people who said “yes” to God as we should and can. With God and through prayer, it is possible!
The best way to become as you desire to be is to listen to those who have already achieved it. If you want to lose weight, follow the guidance of those who have already lost weight. If you want to become a saint, look at the lives of the saints.
Sainthood is not reserved for those who are recognized by the Vatican as saints. Those are just the “certified saints,” the ones the Vatican spends a significant amount of time and money—and the use of a “devil’s advocate”—to ensure that they are without-a-doubt saints. They are the individuals we can look to as role models, and we can trust them as role models for our children! Some of them have done horrible things early in their lives, but they turned away from their old ways and committed to following Christ, showing us what is possible for all of us. St. Augustine was a womanizer who, through the prayers of his mother, St. Monica, turned from his sins and became a bishop, saint, and doctor of the Church! St. Maria Goretti was stabbed to death by her neighbor who attempted to rape her. She forgave this murderer and rapist before she died, and he later became a lay brother of the Franciscan order who might also be named a saint one day!
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. God is ready to forgive us for everything and welcome us as a saint! The only question that remains is this: Are you ready to say “yes” to God?