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I Desire to Desire to be a Saint


Sainthood can seem an unattainable dream when we think of ourselves as candidates. The daily experience of our moral fragility and weakness can appear to put to rest any notion of such an exalted aim. But to accept that is to buy into a ploy of the evil spirit whose sole purpose is to rubbish us, to point relentlessly the finger of accusation against us and to hoodwink us into believing that holiness and sainthood are simply not for us.

So, we have to call the evil spirit’s bluff, as we have to call the bluff of the narrative we so often tell ourselves that we are second or third rate Catholics or even human beings. The FACT is that our constitution as human beings is made for sainthood. The FACT is that we are not defined by our failures unless we fail to redefine ourselves positively. The FACT is that our baptism has already sanctified us and given us the task to work that sanctification out and into our whole selves by the daily grind of living according to the will of God. The FACT is that no-one gets through the pearly gates who is not a saint. If you arrive at them without sanctity, you will be shown to the ante-chamber where Love in Person will make you ready. Those who don’t want sanctity won’t even arrive at the gates. They have preferred somewhere else. They have believed the ploy. 

But, you might well say, another FACT is that I feel so far away. How can I be like St. Dismas, St. Augustine or St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Becket or St. Ignatius of Loyola? How can I be like St. Mary of Egypt, St. Angela of Foligno or St. Olga? Why on earth have these names been picked? Because they were all terrible sinners at one time. In fact, you could take every deadly or mortal sin ever committed and you will find that there is a saint who once was like that! Being a saint does not mean that you were never a sinner. Some of the worst sinners have become the greatest saints.

Why should you or I be any different, then? We’re not. What we’re lacking is perhaps the will, the commitment, the desire. Maybe to say, “I want to be a saint” sounds like too much. OK. How about, “I would like to be a saint”? Still too much? How about, “I desire to be a saint”? Even that too much? How about, “I desire to desire to be a saint”? God can work even with that. The Solemnity of All Saints (whose ranks probably include many people you have known and loved) ought to stir us deeply to a holy envy, to an awakening of the truest and best within us, to ask the Lord God for the desire to desire to be holy, to seek holiness, to work for it, to treasure it. Given what Christ suffered so that we could become holy, surely that’s the least we can do?