Before I let Newman speak for himself, I want to add a word about the Catholic Church’s practice of venerating, naming blessed, and canonizing a sampling of those with whom we’ve shared the earth. I realize this is often looked upon with skepticism, even by some within the Church. In the past, I, too, felt uncertain about the process some have dubbed “saint-making,” but in recent years I’ve come to appreciate and embrace it.
Becoming a “blessed” is the next step on the way to obtaining official sainthood. Those who’ve been so designated did not live perfect lives, however. They were human too, after all. But they did show exemplary characteristics, an extraordinary propensity toward seeking the divine. Certainly, many saints messed up royally before they became who they were to be. Think St. Augustine and his wanton ways. In his younger years, he fathered an illegitimate child. And yet he went on to become one of the most dedicated servants of the Lord. This gives me great hope. If people like St. Augustine and St. Paul could turn around, there’s hope for me, too.
The saints our Church recognizes officially serve as models for us in an age in which heroes are lacking, just as the saints in our midst inspire us. All of these extraordinary people show us that it is possible to be both human and holy, though it’s not necessarily easy. The saints prove to us that once we catch fire with the love of God, there’s no stopping us, no telling what good we might do with God, the source of love and grace, as the operator of our lives.
I hope the words of Newman will inspire you today. I hope you find something in them that resonates with your life and reminds you that we are all called to the most faith-filled, loving life possible, and that if we haven’t fulfilled our God-given mission yet, we can start with the very moment in which we find ourselves.
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.
– Source: Cardinal John Henry Newman (from Daily Catholic Meditations for Faith, Listening, and Peace (www.SilentInsight.com)
Q4U: Who inspires you?