Guest post by Bernz Caasi.
“Holiness is not something for the privileged few: God calls everyone, Love awaits all of us: everyone, no matter where he may be; everyone, no matter what his state in life, his profession or trade. For that ordinary everyday life, apparently unimportant, can be a means to holiness.”
St. Josemaria Escriva
Almost five years ago, my mentor, who also happened to be my first year college Theology professor, told me something that would probably require a lifetime to fully understand. As we walked from our house after a visit, he gently thumped my head, saying, “Remember, you will be a saint.”
“A saint?” As a non-Catholic Christian at the time, someone who didn’t even believe in saints, I just had to laugh. He was just trying to make me feel good about my struggles in school and in my personal life, I thought.
For me, it was a joke, but it stayed with me and I never forgot it. Now as a Catholic, I see how it makes so much sense.
Usually, the idea of being a saint sounds scary and crazy. We think that being holy is just for priests or pastors. Hearing the word holy alone already evokes images of secluded monks praying, incense, nuns fervently reciting the Rosary, and priestly robes.
We fall into the thinking that “I’m just human and I don’t think I can ever be a saint” or worse, we resent the idea. “I don’t want to be a saint, it’s not my thing.” Do I have to be a special someone to be a saint – a priest? a nun? a monk?
Almost nine decades ago, a simple Catholic priest from Barbastro, Spain challenged that thinking and shocked the world with the idea that everyone can be a saint – more than that, he preached that we are called by God to become saints!
St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer established in 1928 a Catholic organization called Opus Dei (Work of God) to inspire people from all walks of life to pursue the path to holiness wherever they are and whatever they do in their personal and professional lives. During his time, it was so radical that many people, even priests, accused him of heresy. Eventually, Christians around the world slowly realized the truths behind his message. The Second Vatican Council would even later on affirm and proclaim the idea of the universal call to holiness.
Here are two points on holiness that we could think about:
- Our work makes us more like Jesus. Our jobs mean more to us than just a paycheck or even helping people. It is in our nature to grow in holiness – becoming more and more like Jesus everyday – through our work. I remember my philosophy professor saying there is no work without toil or effort. It is through the pain or difficulty of our work that we can unite ourselves with the sufferings of Christ who lived a life of toil (St. Escrivá’s The Way, 356).
- The ordinary can be holy. – Our work, however menial it may seem, holds a deeper meaning. St. Escrivá tells us, “there is something holy, something hidden in the most ordinary situations…” (Passionately Loving the World, 1967). If you are a student, the best way to be holy is to be a good student. If you are a broadcaster, you can pursue sainthood by being an advocate of the truth. If you are a teacher, you can be a saint by offering up your sacrifices for your students. If you are a lawyer, you can be holy by living with integrity. If you are a politician, you can walk the path of godliness as you fight for the common good.
Thank you, St. Josemaría, for inspiring us to be not-so-ordinary saints in our ordinary lives. Let us all call on him to intercede for us through this prayer.
Originally posted at Bernz O. Caasi.