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Distracted by the Saints: Weekly Message for 12-8-2020
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, Pax Christi:
I recently asked a fellow priest and member of my community what he thinks about the spiritual practice of “imitating the saints.” His answer surprised me. Without hesitation, he simply said, “I think the saints themselves would laugh at that.”
His basic point struck a chord with me. We are often inspired by the wrong things when we admire the saints. We let ourselves be dazzled by miracles, dramatic penances, and extraordinary charisms. And then we think that that’s the essence of holiness, so we try to imitate those things. Or we think we will never become a saint because we don’t find those things happening in our lives.
But the essence of holiness is much simpler, much less dramatic – at least on the outside. The essence of holiness is living in communion with God. And our growing relationship with Jesus is the path of that communion – as St Richard of Chichester put it: knowing Jesus more clearly, loving him more dearly, and following him more nearly, day by day. That’s what will give our lives the peace, meaning, joy, and fruitfulness we all long for. And that’s what the Advent liturgy constantly emphasizes: Jesus, the promised Savior, the yearned-for Redeemer, is real, is interested in our lives, is coming again, and wants to transform us more and more with his grace.
Holiness in the Nitty-Gritty
All the wondrous and attractive aspects of the lives of the saints should nourish our faith, hope, and love, not just titillate our imagination.
They should strengthen our conviction about the reality of God’s presence and action in this world. We should rejoice in the wonderful experiences and holy achievements of the saints because they are vivid reminders of how God’s grace can impact our lives and our world. We can learn from how the saints came to know, love, and follow Jesus more fully, but we must always apply those lessons to the nitty-gritty reality of our own daily lives. That’s the only place where sanctify, and true Christian joy really happens.
What we find attractive in the lives of the saints can be a distraction if we’re not careful. But it can be a spiritual booster shot if we let it. And that’s what our daily audio reflection series, Advent with the Saints, is designed to help you do. So if you haven’t signed up yet, click HERE and do so now. Discover “Uncle Eddy” and be entertained and challenged by all the no-nonsense advice he gleans from the lives of the saints and applies to the challenges of life in this post-Christian world.
A special thanks to all of you who have continued to support us with your prayers and donations. We pray for you daily.
May God abundantly bless your Advent journey and lead you to a truly Merry Christmas!
Peace in Him,
Fr John Bartunek, LC