I feel like I should mention this-I am just a regular person wanting to live my life for God and to follow Him. I am not trained in counseling about our faith. My reflections here and elsewhere on my blog are my personal reflections about my faith life. I hope they inspire you to dive deeper into learning more about our faith and developing a deeper relationship with our Lord.
Sometimes when our family is going on a long drive, we’ll listen to a cd. One day we listened to a cd called “Facing Your Fears,” a recorded live speech by youth minister Mark Hart. He is a great and funny speaker. He has a gift for storytelling and sharing the heart of our Catholic faith in a way that makes an impact. All of us were attentively listening. In his talk, Mark said something that has stuck with me: “If you’re not aiming for sainthood, you’ve got to aim higher.”
Now, this is something we know as Christians-we are all called to be saints. A saint is someone who is with God in Heaven. Still, I was challenged by Mark’s question. Heaven will be my eternal home, but am I trying now to be a saint? Am I putting this on my to-do list with the other things I need and want to do?
Am I aiming for sainthood?
I want to be a saint.
I think the first step to sainthood is to have the desire to be with God in Heaven. I do want to be a saint. I do not rank with those who have been canonized, but I do want to be a saint, to spend eternity with God in Heaven.
So then, what do I need to do to get there?
Live the life God has called me to live.
Living the life God has called for me to live sounds simple. I do not always think that implementation is simple. Well, I take that back; implementation is simple. Instead, I will say that I do not think that implementation is always easy.
When I choose God I automatically say no to a lot of other things. I say no to missing Mass on Sundays, to focusing on myself all of the time, to sinning on purpose.
When I choose God I choose to know Him, to love Him, and serve Him as best I can, discerning His will for my life. This means I need to make the effort to do these things, not just do them whenever I choose to fit them into my schedule.
I will not know God unless I spend time learning about Him by attending Mass, reading my Bible, praying, and learning from others.
I will have a greater love for God and serve Him when I do these things and involve myself in the life our Church by receiving the sacraments and serving others.
I will know God’s will for my life in living my vocation and in living each day by staying close to Him and seeking Him out to guide me.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Does this sound familiar? Often it is what the minister of the ashes says as he or she puts ashes on the foreheads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday. “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
These instructions are straightforward. 1-Turn away from sin. 2-Be faithful to the Gospel. Both are choices to make throughout each day.
I can turn away from that word I want to say in anger. I can turn away from wasting time. I can turn away from selfishness.
I can be faithful to the Gospel by following what God tells me to do. I can be faithful to the Gospel by taking the time to read my Bible and learn what God has revealed to us. I can be faithful to the Gospel by receiving the sacraments: not just going to Mass on Sundays, but more often if possible. By not just going to Reconciliation during Lent and Advent, but going more often.
Building and maintaining a relationship with God means that God and I communicate with each other, spend time together, and know each other. The closer we are, the better we are at doing these things and the stronger our relationship is. As with all relationships, this takes time and effort.
God is always reaching out to me. How can I reach out to Him in response and draw closer to Him?
Remember that from dust I came and to dust I shall return.
Life on earth is temporary. God created us for Heaven. This perspective can help me decide how and where I spend my time.
Will I spend a lot of my time on earthly things?
Will I teach my children about God in my words and in my example?
Will I make time to pray every day?
Will I spend time on things (like too much television) and realize that I could have used my time more wisely?
A great question I can ask myself during each day is, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” Will what I am doing bring me closer to live the life God wants me to live?
Will what I am doing now bring me closer to my goals of a life in Heaven?
We have only one life.
God gives each of us one life. He created each of us as a unique individual. He loves us so much that He suffered terribly and died for us and for our salvation. God knew what He was doing when He created me. He knew what He was doing when He created you. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows the unique gifts and talents He gave each of us to live a fulfilling life on earth and to get to Heaven.
In our response to God, we need to be faithful to Him and trust in Him to show us how to be saints. He will help us every step of the way.
If you are interested in listening to the cd I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can find it at Lighthouse Catholic Media.