The saints are awesome. There really isn’t any way to sugarcoat it. They’re as close to us as our friends here on earth and are available to talk any time of the day.
When it comes to my relationship with the saints, it can be hard to pick a favorite. They’re all amazing, and each offers a unique story and journey to a holy life and the ultimate goal of Heaven. I have to say that my list of top saints would include Edith Stein, Pope John Paul II and Pierre Giorgio Frassetti. Then toss in Maria Goretti, Cecilia and Theresa of Avila and you have yourself a pretty good saint mix if I do say so myself.
All of my favorite saints crash onto the scene of Catholicism and give me amazing examples of an in-your-face Catholicism that exploded and invaded their entire life. I am inspired by Pope John Paul II’s rugged outdoors life and incredible evangelization skills. I am emboldened by Edith Stein’s writings on women. I wanted to learn to ski just to be closer to Pierre Giorgio. I wanted to change the course of history and people’s lives like Maximilian Kolbe. I wanted to be a great saint – and I surrounded myself with amazing role models.
But when I chatted with people about their favorite saint, one beautiful lady kept popping up in conversation and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Now we get to the honesty hour. Where I admit that, for the longest time, I couldn’t stand Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Wow, that’s sounds harsh.
Maybe it was her neatness. Her gentle smile that seemed to find me in every chapel that I went to – a stray holy card there, a statue here, this constant presence of roses. She was the epitome of humility, and I was struggling with my biggest vice of pride. She was tidy and calm and I was internally wrestling and externally the definition of chaos. Therese’s Story of a Soul was easy to read. She communicated through evident signs, like roses. I was all over the place and often disorganized. Therese didn’t appeal to me. I struggled to relate to her story to sainthood.
But gradually, as more of my friends sang the praises of Christ working through Saint Therese in their life, I realized that I needed to give her another chance – or rather, stop shutting off my heart to what Christ was trying to tell me through her.
Then I realized why I didn’t get along so well with Saint Therese – she challenged me too much.
Saint Therese wrote, “I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifices to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.”
I did N-O-T want to hear that. I would rather hear things like “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” YES! Bring it on Saint Catherine of Sienna! Action! Power! None of this pin-picking up business.
Yet Therese kept hitting me with amazing quotes that dug at me day in and day out. She made me reconsider my mission field.
I was looking at things with a very broad scope vantage point lens. Let me take on the world. My campus. My career field. But Therese was sitting beside me, nudging my finger on the zoom button of that camera, constantly pulling my vision closer and closer to the individuals who were closest to me. My best friends, family, classmates, professors. She kept saying that they were my mission – my mission in my backyard…and I didn’t want to have a thing to do with that.
That was personal. That was messy. There wasn’t any glory …I thought. It felt like settling to me.
Yet Therese kept proving me wrong – especially when I discovered what she was the patron saint of. Saint Therese the Little Flower, who went into a cloistered convent is the patron saint of missionaries.
What? But it was true – this little saint who pushed herself along her little way was rippling out and effecting many more than just those in her four convent walls. And I was being challenged to do the same.
Am I saying that God isn’t asking big things from you? No. But I am saying that maybe the stage where you’re called to start that role in His plan is looks a lot like the dinner table at your house. Or that 2:00 am conversation with a dear friend who needs to know that she’s loved. Or a little brother who needs challenged in his faith life. Maybe it’s not big…maybe it’s doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.
“Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”
So embrace the little things, take on the courageous cross of great love, and strive towards sainthood.