My first book published, thanks to Sophia Press, had its grand debut with the catchy title: From Humdrum to Holy! The whole thrust of this short, humble literary work was, and is, and will be to motivate all of us to move from a humdrum life of mediocrity, tepidity, lukewarmness, spiritual anemia to a sincere and ardent desire to be who God calls us to be— saints, and great saints!
One of the most challenging, stark, almost terrifying passages in the Bible is taken from the last Book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, or if you like the Book of the Apocalypse. Reading and reflecting upon this passage should motivate us to quickly spring out of the quagmire of sloth and laziness to a desire to become holy as our Heavenly Father is holy. Behold the passage! It is the message to the Church of Laodicea:
“The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:14-16)
Therefore, in this short essay we would like to revisit the all-important topic of the universal call to holiness and offer five short, clear, and practical ways that all of us can go from Humdrum to Holy, to move from a life of sadness, mediocrity, and spiritual-anemia to a life imbued with an ardent desire to implement the imperative command of the Holy of Holies, Jesus the Lord: Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy! (Mt 5:48)
Our essential message will be to focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the prism of those who followed in His footsteps; we call these shining stars of the firmament THE SAINTS!
1. SAINTS AS REFORMED SINNERS. As a child I had the mistaken notion that the saints were born saints. I speculated that they did not have the trials, temptations, and sins that we so called normal people have. I even thought that they probably did not have to go to the bathroom, or take a bath or shower. This erroneous and childish notion dissipated into thin air upon reading some of the lives of the saints. We’ll just mention a few who really lived spicy, immoral lives, to set the stage: Mary Magdalene, the Good Thief, Augustine, Ignatius of Loyola, Margaret of Cortona—known as the second Magdalene, Camillus de Lellis, even St. Peter in his triple denial of Jesus. They all played out the effects of Original Sin by committing many sins. However, the love of God met them and conquered them, and they all became dear friends to Jesus and great saints. There is hope for you and for me! Jesus said point blank to Saint Faustina Kowalska in the Diary—Divine Mercy in My Soul, the greatest sinners can become the greatest saints, but under one condition: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!!! We must have a limitless trust in the infinite and all-powerful mercy of God!
2. SAINTS FALL BUT THEY BOUNCE HIGHER. Saints are not sinless, but when they fall they are resilient—that is to say, they fall but they bounce back. This is key to arriving at holiness: if we fall, we should not stay in the mud and wallow in the mire of our own sinfulness; rather, we should humbly recognize our fall and bounce back like one of those powerful and resilient superballs! The founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary exhorts us with these two short words in Latin: Nunc Coepi! This means that after I have fallen, I simply repent, return to the Lord (like the Prodigal Son), and start a new life, a new existence, born again in the powerful atmosphere of God’s grace. Jesus said very clearly to Saint Faustina that the worst sin of all sins is a lack of trust in the infinite mercy of God! Even though we fall, may we return and trust even more fully in God’s love and mercy! St. Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Romans: Where sin abounds, the mercy of God abounds all the more! (Romans 5:20)
3. WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. These words with a little help from my friends, actually comes from a Beatles song. Why not apply this to the saints and their powerful presence in our lives. Indeed, they are in heaven with God, praising and worshiping Him for all eternity, but they are also active and present in the world, in the circumstances of life, and in our own daily lives. It is important that we keep the saints busy on earth. This means that we should get in the habit of praying to the saints, invoking the saints, having recourse to them, calling out to them day and night. They love us, but they love us all the more when we remember them and call upon their assistance! If we never call upon our friends and seek to spend time with them, then our friendship declines and finally evaporates. We do not want this to happen in our relationship with the saints. Therefore, let us call upon the saints, so with a little help from our friends, we too can become saints!
4. TO KNOW IS TO LOVE, TO LOVE IS TO FOLLOW, TO FOLLOW IS TO IMITATE! We must get to know who these noble and glorious men and women are whom we call the saints. How? Very simply: read, and read, and read the lives of the saints. You can consult your spiritual director for advice on how to go about this. The important thing is to read their lives, get to know them, and talk to them. As you read, admire, and talk to them, you’ll fall in love with them as your dear friends and intercessors. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that the saints help us especially in two ways. First, they can pray for us; their power of intercession before the throne of God is potent. Second, the lives of the saints serve to motivate us in our own daily lives to emulate and imitate their virtues. We must have models on which to pattern our lives. What better models than the lives of the saints of God!
5. CELEBRATION WITH PRAYER, JOY, AND COMMUNION! Finally, it is highly recommended that we celebrate the individual saints by attending Mass on their specific Liturgical Feast Days. Check your calendar at the start of every week and highlight which saints are celebrated that week; then go to Mass and participate fully, actively, and consciously. If you are well-disposed, receive Holy Communion in honor of the saints and beg the Lord Jesus to help you become a great saint! May Mary most holy, the Queen of Heaven and earth, the Queen of the angels and saints, obtain for all of us an ardent desire to carry out in our daily lives the divine imperative that came from the lips of Jesus, the Holy of Holies, be holy as your heavenly Father is holy. (Mt. 5:48) So, let us sweep our souls clean of the poisonous dust of tepidity and mediocrity and strive for the ardent fire of the saints, to set the world on fire with the love of the Lord Jesus Christ! May the last words of St. Ignatius to St. Francis Xavier be explosive words to us: GO SET ALL ON FIRE!!!
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.