Summary: Here are some practical suggestions for becoming a saint.
What does it mean to be a saint? And why are we celebrating each year the Solemnity of All Saints? One simple reason–God wants us to be happy. God wants us, therefore, to be saints ourselves. Holy on earth; holy in heaven. To be saints, to be holy, we need to live and die in charity, loving God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. In order to live and die in charity, we cannot leave our lives to chance. We must avail ourselves of all the ways Jesus left us to become holy, to remain in love. That means attaining a mature understanding of our faith, daily prayer, and frequent reception of communion, backed up by regular confession of our sins. As Walt Disney famously said, when asked his philosophy of change: change is inevitable; growth is optional.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. That means we must be attuned to a life of poverty–no possession must stand between us and God. The first commandment is very like that. Any thing, any habit can stand in the way of God. We can’t wait to get Mass over with so we can get back to our new car, or video game, or football contest. That sounds like a problem if it gets in the way of our relationship with God. Instead, we are to be poor in spirit as Jesus was, who didn’t have a place to lay His head, and was OK with that state. Yes, keep a week or two of food in the house, and have a reasonable wardrobe, not just a change of sackcloth, but be careful not to be like the guy in the Gospel who was constantly building grain silos against some imaginary peril.
Blessed they who mourn, for they will be comforted. The mourning in question is not over our dead friends and relatives, for they are in the hands of God, as the Book of Wisdom teaches. What we ought to mourn over is the extent of sin in our society–the rampant spread of sinful behavior, and the encoding in law of sinful conduct as almost mandated by the government. I speak for instance of the attempt to drag the sacrament of matrimony into the sewer and to force all of us to be accomplices to that abomination. I speak of what Fr. Montague called “that godless mandate” forcing employers to subsidize contraception, sterilization and abortion. That is worth mourning, but not without hope. For Jesus is still Lord, and still Master of history. Yes, we hunger and thirst for righteousness, and we will be satisfied. Let’s just pray that our satisfaction does not come at the expense of other people who die in mortal sin. The loss of even one soul to God is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
You see, the Beatitudes are not a wish list as much as they are a program of life. We are to be meek, seeking service as Jesus did, rather than power as politicians do. We are to be merciful, and to spread the Gospel of mercy, especially in the upcoming year of mercy. We are to be pure of heart, that is totally dedicated to the service of Christ in His people. That’s more than just avoiding certain pictures and videos and books. It means nourishing ourselves and our families with good literature and classic images and uplifting films. And we are to rejoice when we are reviled by the culture, because that is when we are most like Jesus and Mary. We should thank God for the opportunity to witness to His love, even when it costs us.
Now let’s talk about cost. Last week I was privileged to preach about the kingship of Christ. This week I get to preach about the Sermon on the Mount, and–a bonus for all of us–the Sermon on the amount. Don’t mishear me. I said last week that our giving to the monthly support of the Church here at the 1210 Mass is welcome and exemplary. But we have a problem. The parish has a wonderful new facility in Maneth hall, and I hope you take the tour after Mass of the gym and library and other facilities. But we still owe nearly $2 million and haven’t even been collecting enough each month to make the bank payments. There are serious days ahead if we don’t increase our giving. Let me make some suggestions that might help you give another $50 or $100 a month.
I suspect that like me there are other charities you support. I suggest you direct half of your other giving into the repayment of the debt. Just for a couple of years. Meet with your insurance folks to discuss reducing the costs of insurance, for instance by increasing deductibles or exchanging old term life policies for new ones–if you are healthy. If you have retirement funds that you aren’t using, funnel some of them into debt repayment. Please make this a priority, as my wife and I have been doing for the past six months.