LET’S AIM FOR SAINTHOOD!
It’s a New Year and a time for new beginnings. In the New Year, we make resolutions that hopefully bring about peace and fulfillment in our daily life. Each individual usually has a major commitment for the coming year. This year I recommend sainthood!
St. Padre Pio writes, “It is difficult to become saints, difficult but not impossible. The road to perfection is long, just as long as a lifetime. Consolation is rest along the way, but as soon as your strength is restored, you must get up diligently and continue the race.”
When I advocate sainthood, I am not suggesting we are all beatified by Rome (although that would be very nice) I am speaking about sainthood in our lives, in our prayers and in our actions. We should aim high in our Christian faith! Sainthood is complete selflessness and desire for the Lord. It is an emptying of oneself and longing to be filled with Jesus. During the mass of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God on January 01, I began praying, “Create in me an ever-increasing desire for you oh Lord.” I find I have been repeating this phrase often over the past few days.
To attain sainthood in our daily lives, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not some thing we can do on our own. It is accomplished through prayer and fasting, Holy Eucharist, and Confession. Our church has laid out this path for us through the sacraments. If we put Jesus first in everything we do and focus on Him, we are able to grow closer to Him and thus towards His ideal image of ourselves.
Each day, we should aspire to grow more deeply in our faith. For example, I suggest sitting at the front of church when we go to mass, so we can enter more fully into the Eucharistic celebration, until the entire experience is a prayer we are praying, rather than something we are listening to and simply responding.
We should love those around us who are hardest to love and go the extra mile for those that are struggling in life. It is so easy to get caught up in the secular activities we do in life such as going to work or doing the shopping and cooking or the housework and we forget the real reason we are here. We watch TV, Netflix or perhaps we scroll on Facebook when our time could be better spent with the Lord. I myself enjoy Netflix in the evenings and have to make a real effort to switch it off and spend time in prayer, although since Wayne died, the house is much quieter, and I have had an opportunity to grow closer to God. I feel his presence more strongly that I did and find myself talking to Him more throughout the day. I am really valuing this grace.
It’s always a wonderful feeling when we are able to start anew. The start of a new year gives us opportunity to improve ourselves spiritually. The optimal new start in 2019 for those with strong faith is finding ways to increase that faith. Reading Our Lady’s message of January 02 (listed in full on page in the newsletter) certainly encourages us to increase our resolve. “…Faith is being extinguished in many souls, and hearts are being grasped by material things of the world. But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son - then, in this way, they are also seeking me… My children, apostles of my love, I am teaching you that my Son is not only asking for continuous prayers, but also for works and feelings - that you believe, that you pray, that with your personal prayers you grow in faith, that you grow in love. To love each other is what He asks for - that is the way to eternal life.”
Mary constantly reminds us to listen carefully and to make every effort to fulfill our mission in life according to the desire of her Son, Jesus. Lately, she has mentioned deep concern that we may not be listening and reacting as Jesus requests. One cannot help but notice the Blessed Virgin’s solution to achieving our basic resolution to increase our faith. We have been given this solution to our problems over and over again. So, let me state it again in its simplest form: To achieve God’s peace we are to pray, fast and do acts of penance. We are to listen to the “Queen of Peace” as Mary is titled at Medjugorje, as she brings us her messages straight from the throne of God.
We start with prayer. Understand that prayer is conversation with God the Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus; and, with the Holy Spirit. Strip prayer of its stiff, human-created formality and it becomes a personal conversation, an intimate conversation with your Creator. We pray to Mary as our intercessor; we ask each other to be intercessors. We use every possible way to pray in order to accomplish our resolution. And the most powerful, second only to the Holy Mass, is the praying of the Rosary.
Add to prayer the gift of fasting. Mary tells us constantly, that through prayer and fasting, we can stop wars and alter the laws of nature.
Fasting is giving God a gift, a sacrifice, just as Jesus gave us the gift of His sacrifice on the cross. Fasting, especially on just bread and water, is difficult. But accomplishing that difficulty separates you and accelerates your achievement of peace. Mary asks at Medjugorje that we fast twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday. Again, accomplishment of this grace brings you to peace at a faster pace.
Penance is, like fasting, a gift. It is a gift of time to assist others on all levels. It is voluntarily going out of the way to help someone by giving them food, shelter, time and most importantly, sincere care. Penance gives us the opportunity to live our faith without expecting a return.
Profound spiritual joy can be found when we live our faith as God intended and remember, “keep your eye fixed on the goal…eternal life!”
A Happy and Holy New Year to you All!
By Judith Weible
(Also including some text taken from an earlier column written by Wayne)