Married, celibate, zealous apostle, tender child, rich, poor, sickly, robust, prominent, recluse, brilliant, and mentally disabled—the individuals in our Catholic canon of saints are incredibly diverse. Each of them is conformed to Christ, decidedly holy, and utterly different. For a mother of five, living a “normal” life in suburban America yet striving to breathe radical holiness into the little domestic church of mine, this truth is remarkably heartening.
I recently heard in a homily, “God’s plan A: that we be saints. God’s plan B: he doesn’t have one.” We must all be entirely holy. That’s it! That is God’s will: that each of us be saints. He expects that we will become saints, and he demands that we be saints. “Be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy,” he says in Leviticus 20:7.
We are often misled by attaching a formula or mold to achieving sanctity and then beating ourselves up for not seeming at all like the saint we so admire. However, in God’s design, holiness looks different on everyone. True holiness is not an achievement or a competition. We mustn’t qualify, because we can’t. In fact, holiness is a grace: it is, amazingly, God’s own life within us. The holiness he demands is his own holiness poured into our souls—an indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
That all sounds marvelously divine, but how does it relate to this mama whose dreams of sainthood seem to be shattered almost daily by her own failures? How I react to a kid throwing a fit, a teen’s bad attitude, a fractured friendship, or an imperfection in my husband must certainly eliminate me from any chance for sanctity. Yet God created me for one purpose: to live his divine life. Eternally. So, no. Though my laundry-sorting, store-bought-dinner, squabbling-siblings, struggling-for-sanity path may look nothing like the stories of Saint Thérèse or Saint Gianna Molla, it is still a path he has designed and hallowed. Most importantly, he makes me holy by his Holy Spirit abiding in me and my own unique circumstances. I must only allow him to live in me, radiating his own holiness, mercy, and love.