Becoming A Saint
Fr. Luke A. Veronis
How many times we pray at every Divine Liturgy: “Remembering the most holy, pure blessed Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.”
What does it mean when we say “with all the saints, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.” Obviously, this prayer tells us to place ourselves in the midst of the saints of the Church, and to commit our lives to Christ as they committed their lives to Jesus!
Throughout the New Testament, the early Christians use to call every believer a saint. Why? Because it was a reminder that every baptized believer is supposed to live a holy life. We all are called to become saints! 100 years from now, our Church in Webster should have some new icons – of St. Neal of Northboro, St. Lisa of Dudley, St. Ted on the Lake, and St. Del of Webster. This is our calling, and our potential!!!
Now, many of you may be thinking, “Fine, God is calling us to become saints, but HOW do we pursue this path towards holiness?” St. Paul gives us directions in his letters.
First, he reminds us that we all are “temples of the living God.” Temples are places dedicated solely for God. Thus, our lives must also be focused primarily on Him. Remember, each of us is precious in the eyes of God, and our lives are sacred. Therefore, let us set ourselves apart from all the vain and impure things of this world. Let us strive to live as holy children of God. Remember, no matter what we have done in the past, and no matter how we have fallen away from God, He still sees the goodness and purity that dwells deep within us and desires for that holiness to radiate from our lives.
And to live “as a temple of the living God” does not mean that we have to abandon the world and become a monk or nun, or even dedicate our life as a priest or missionary. For some, this may be our calling. For most people, however, our dedication means that in whatever we do, we do it in the name of Christ. Whether we are a housewife or a business man, a teacher or a factory worker, a student or a doctor, we must strive to live lives with Christ at the center, with a worldview that is formed by the Church and our Faith, and as if God is always with us guiding us; He is our partner, our co-worker, our competitor, our master, and our Lord! We must act in holiness, in purity, in honesty, in truth, in faith, and above all, in love.
Second, Paul reminds us that God wants to live in us, walk with us, and be our God. In other words, God is ready to help. We cannot become saints on our own. God is there to empower us with His Holy Spirit, to guide in each and every day, and to help us whenever we have the need.
Last week, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples with power. This power is the special strength we have to overcome the temptations and evils of Satan, and to live a life of discipline and sacrifice, a life of service and love, helping others and glorifying God.
Thus, our effort to become saints obviously will not be an individual one but will be in cooperation with God, this synergy of God working in us and with us. By our effort, and with His grace, we all can journey the path of sainthood.
There is a story about how St. Anthony the Great heard God tell him to go into the city of Alexandria and meet some holy man. St. Anthony was very interested in meeting another serious co-sojourner in the Kingdom of God, so he got up, left the Egyptian desert, and went into the big city. Thinking that he would meet some great ascetic, or some holy Bishop, St. Anthony was surprised when the Holy Spirit led him to the home of a simple shoemaker. This humble man lived together with his wife and children. Anthony was surprised that God would hold this simple man as a model for him to learn from, but he realized that this simple, humble man was quite attentive to the Spirit of God within him. So, St. Anthony stayed with the man for a few days. What he noticed was that the man lived his life according to the Gospel. With his wife, with his children, in his work, with his customers, and with anyone he met, he treated them all with respect and humility, in service and love. He did all in the name of God, and for the glory of God. After a few days, Anthony returned to the desert, praising God for this lesson he learned in seeing holiness in among the most simple and humble people!
Sainthood doesn’t imply doing great things the world will admire. It does imply doing simple things, everything, with great love and humility, all for the glory of God’s name! Doing ordinary things with extraordinary love for the glory of God!
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Called to become saints! Will you accept this great privilege and responsibility? Remember, it does not depend on God. He already created us in His image and likeness, sent His Holy Spirit to live in us, and showers all us daily with the potential needed. Our holiness depends on each one of us – whether we are ready to commit our lives in an absolute way, to die to our old, sinful selves and live our lives in a holy way dedicated to Jesus Christ. If we choose to follow this path, then our reward will first be a life of inexpressible peace and joy here on earth, while simultaneously leading us to the crown of sainthood in eternity.
Let us honor all the saints whom we celebrate today by meditating on these words of St. Paul, evaluating the direction of our lives, realizing the potential that lies within us, and beginning our long journey toward sainthood. And let us remember our calling each time we say, “Remembering the most holy, pure blessed Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.”
Christ is with us!