Léon Bloy, a Catholic French novelist, once wrote, “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”
The reality of the Christian life is that our goal as Christians is to become saints. I know this sounds crazy. By default, if you say you are going to be a saint, you aren’t a saint. It’s like becoming pope; if you say you want the position, you will never be elected. But here’s what I’m getting at: Sainthood is all about striving for holiness. Our purpose on earth, as a Christian, is to live for eternity during this life, so that we can reach unity with God in the next life. If we don’t at least aim at becoming the holiest we can be, we’ll never get there.
You may be thinking- how am I supposed to do saintly things? Most people don’t think of themselves as particularly holy people because we are constantly reminded of our own sinfulness. However, this reminds me of something St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica: “Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.” This idea is filled with so much hope because it means that by making the effort to pray, go to Mass, or serve others in living a Christian life, God will fill you with the grace necessary to complete these tasks. His grace will bring you closer to Him, and your cooperation with this grace will ultimately make you a more holy person, closer and closer to becoming a saint.
Another way of saying this is what my mother liked to tell me growing up, “If you want to be smart, do smart things.” This may have been her excuse to sign me up for every science fair or send my sister to chess camp, but she had the right idea. As long as you create holy habits for yourself, you will become a better person.
In her book, Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila describes the path that the soul goes on to find union with God. The first step of this journey is the holy desire you must have, granted by God, to suffer in order to imitate Christ and to better oneself. It is only a desire to be close to God that is the first step in becoming a saint. We can trust that God will work in this desire to make it holy.
The bottom line is this: always try to be the most holy version of yourself. If we strive for holiness, we will become as close to God as we possibly can. It is in walking with Christ this Lent that we will become close to Him and share in His sorrowful Passion. In the midst of this holy season, let our hearts be changed by Him and always be turned towards the Father who wants us to be saints.