“The saints were not abnormal beings: cases to be studied by a ‘modernistic’ doctor. They were — they are — normal: of flesh, like yours. And they won.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
I often look at the example of the saints and wonder to myself, “How in the world can I live up to Francis? Or Benedict? Or St. Therese? Or Pope John Paul II? Or St. Josemaria? Or, or, or…” What I forget though, and I think many others forget this as well, is that the saints were normal people. Think about it: St. Jerome, one of the most prolific scripture scholars in the history of the Church, got up in the morning like anyone else, and probably had an established routine that consisted of little quirks and habits, just like we all do. In fact, knowing his personality, Jerome probably wasn’t the most cheery fellow in those early hours. Mother Theresa rode in cars, trains, and planes. St. Francis walked on his own two feet, doing the literal work of rebuilding the Church with his own two hands. Blessed John Paul II dealt with aches, pains, and later in life tremendous suffering, just as so many other people do throughout the world. So what’s the difference?
They said yes. Yes to Grace. Yes to His plan. Yes to joy, abandonment, suffering, and the unremitting fulfillment that comes from following God alone. They weren’t perfect. Some were cantankerous. Others had bad habits. Still others were forgetful, or had other flaws that undoubtedly grated on peoples’ nerves. They came from all walks of life. They were normal people, just like you and me.
But along with all of that, they were open to the action of Grace in their lives.
So how do we find what we are supposed to say yes to in the first place? How do we follow Grace? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?! But you know what, even in my stubborn hardheadedness, I have found that it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Saying yes can be as simple as the kind act of opening a door, helping someone in need, doing some unseen act for the benefit of another. These smaller “yeses” will help when it comes time to give a bigger yes, a bigger commitment.
So meditate, ruminate, and mull over St. Josemaria’s words above. Remember that the saints were sinners just like you and me. Just as the saints were all sinners, flawed human beings, we all have the capacity to be saints. The road may be tough, but He is always there with us. I will leave you with some words from Fr. Paschal Cheline, a Benedictine monk and beloved mentor from Mount Angel Seminary:
“Get on the road, where you know it is (and you know the conclusion) and don’t get off. Now, you may rest a awhile, you may go to this side or that side a little bit, but don’t get off the road because you know that road is leading you where you want to go and where you should go. If you get off the road, which could happen, well, get back on! Don’t let your life fall apart! Grab your life and live it! I think that’s what God wants and I think that’s what holiness is.”
Pax et bonum.