“You cannot become a saint without becoming a human being first.” -St. Charbel Makhlouf, on sainthood, “Love is a Radiant Light”
Hello dear reader! I was struck by this quote over the course of my spiritual readings. Such power and depth packed into one little sentence! In this piece I hope to unpack some of my thoughts behind this saying and its greater significance in our road to sainthood.
To become a saint is our great goal in this life on Earth as Christians. But what does it mean to become a saint? A saint is defined as a holy person who is chosen by God for a special purpose. All believers are called to be saints in one sense or another. We all have a special job on this earth that nobody else can do, be it St. Therese and Her Little Way or St. Francis’s rebuilding of the Church. To achieve that job in its fulfillment requires a multitude of sacrifices and of steps growing in virtue. To be a saint is to be an enemy of the way of the way of world, the way of the flesh, and the Devil. Every sin mortifies the saint. Saints are totally dependent on Christ for all things. Above all, a saint is the servant of Christ, willing to conqueor every aspect of their being for the greater good of being closer to God.
So how does one reach such heights? How can we hope to attain such sanctity? As with all things, it begins with a first step. Realizing that we are only human. Coming to the realization that human beings in their nature are fearful and panicky, like sheep without a shepherd. Acknowledging before God that we are indeed in need of saving. That is what it means to become a human being. Our sin and weakness define us as the human race thanks to original sin. We are in dire need of mercy.
But there’s good news on sainthood!
It doesn’t have to be this way, dear reader. Our weakness can become our greatest strength if we allow God to make it so. How can we do this? By trading our sinful natures for humility before God. Humility is the basis of all other virtues. Nothing else good can spring forth otherwise. Love without humility is selfish and self-serving. Charity without humility is an empty gesture. And so on. Humility is the most important thing in God’s grand economy. Love springs from humility, and from love springs mercy. Genuine Christian love and mercy for our fellow man is nothing without humility and humbleness before God. Remember only the penitent will pass!
Being a saint does not mean to be a holy superman or superwoman. Quite the opposite actually! In fact, saints know and revile their own sin. Saint John Bosco and Saint Patrick reenforce this idea about sainthood:
Enjoy yourself as much as you like – if only you keep from sin.
–Saint John Bosco
“The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart, so that I should recall my sins.”
As you can see the saint is fully aware of both their sinful natures and the saving power of God. The steps between human being and saint all start with the first step of humility. With that simple step, you too can march towards sainthood and achieve the highest of human potential. The road may seem endless but rest assured; God’s own Spirit will guide your steps if you let Him. I pray that we may all become saints one day and see the fullness of God in Heaven.
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