I have to be honest. In the past, whenever someone said that I was made to become a saint, I kind of cringed a little.
Me? A saint? I am SO far from being a saint.
I am not like Mother Teresa, who helped the dying in the slums of Calcutta. I am not like Therese of Lisieux, so innocent and wholehearted in her love for God. I’m definitely not like Teresa of Avila, who entered into ecstasy randomly throughout the day because her prayer life was such an intimate communion with God.
I’m not even close to being a saint, and what’s more, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be one!
Looking at the lives of these great saints in comparison to mine felt silly. Even though I loved God and wanted to be close with Him, my life looked and felt so much more worldly than theirs. The idea of sainthood seemed not only unattainable, but entirely intimidating as well. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to pursue the kind of change that would make me holy, bold, and prayerful in the ways that these great saints of the faith were.
I just kind of wanted to fade into the background so I could go on being “me.
I rejected the idea of sainthood, opting instead to pray for heaven while shooting for purgatory. It’s all I felt I deserved because I honestly didn’t believe that my life and heart here on earth could change so radically. The idea not only scared me, but it also seemed impossible. Purgatory–the chance for God to purify and transform me when I die–seemed all that I would be able to reach.
How could I possibly reach the height of sainthood when I still couldn’t let go of my attachment to certain sins? Ask anyone in my family and they’d surely confirm that I am indeed no saint.
Over the years, God softened my heart to the idea of sainthood. I realized that by fearing holiness and sainthood, I was basically telling God that I didn’t think He could accomplish great things…in me. I also realized that I was selling myself short, choosing the lesser portion over God. It was as if I was saying that a life in full pursuit of Him wouldn’t fulfill me…it would only change me into something other than I am, and I didn’t want that. I figured I could save holiness for heaven.
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, and this feast is special because it reveals so much to us about what God wants to accomplish in our lives. In Jesus’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, He reveals to us what it would look like for humanity to be configured to Him. On the mountain, Jesus revealed His Godliness through illumination, and by doing so, revealed to us what it would mean to be close to Him.
If we draw near to Jesus, we will ultimately be illuminated by him. When we are near to Him–when we cling to him so tightly so as to be configured to Him–we end up becoming what we behold.
That is what was so captivating about the saints! If you look closely at their lives, you’ll see that each saint was a unique expression of God’s love illuminating in the world. None of them were dull or boring. None of them got swept up by God to the point where they were unrecognizable. They were awe-inspiring, radiant, joyful, and incredible people. They were visible manifestations of the persons God created them to be.
What made the saints so great was their ability to see God as the ultimate good, here and now. They knew that to be close to God was to reach the height of perfection, and they sought His love, above all. They gave their full yes to God at all times, and never “shot” for anything less (i.e. purgatory) than full communion with Him.
There’s something important I think we can all learn from the saints: God does not want us shooting for purgatory. God does not want us to settle for the least best version of ourselves. He wants us to become exactly who He created each and every one of us to be, and He wants us to strive for that version now.
What are you waiting for?
The Transfiguration is a glimpse into Jesus’s plans for us: when we cling to Him, we too will be transfigured through Him. This doesn’t mean that we will become something that we are not, but rather that we will be transformed into a more beautiful and elevated version of ourselves.
That is what Christ has in mind for us, and that is why holiness is nothing to be afraid of. All that you were created to be is fulfilled in your calling for holiness and closeness to God. Holiness doesn’t make you some meek, dulled down version of yourself, but it illuminates all of your most beautiful characteristics, and sets you ablaze so that you might become a light for all the world to see.
Stop shooting for purgatory.
Shoot for sainthood instead.
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