The only great tragedy
I was struck by a quotation used in Pope Francis’ “Gaudete et exsultate,” which is about the call to holiness in today’s world. He quoted a French essayist, Leon Bloy, who said “the only great tragedy in life is not to become a saint.” (GE 34)
I could not agree more with it. After all, to be holy is really what all of us are meant for. And that’s because God made us to be such. He created us in his image and likeness. Failing to become a saint is like failing in everything in our life.
I remember a pertinent anecdote involving Opus Dei founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, and some of his spiritual children who were assigned to put up the University of Navarre in Spain. When they finally managed to put up the university, they were happy and proud to present it to the founder.
The founder was obviously happy, but he told them that he did not simply tell them to put up the university, but rather to become a saint by putting up the university.
We should not forget the proper priorities in our life and avoid getting confused and lost in the technicalities of our earthly sojourn. Christ himself said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt 6,33) He reiterated this point a number of times as when he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Mt 5,48)
When evaluating our performance and work quality, we have to see to it that the constant and ultimate criterion should be whether our work has led us to sanctity, to a growth in our love for God and for others.
There should at least be the awareness that we are becoming a better person whenever we finish a job, that we are growing in the different virtues, that we are getting closer to God and everyone else.
When we start planning and organizing our tasks, we should see to it that the primary principle and motive to drive us is our response to the call to holiness. We should use the pertinent spiritual and supernatural means as well as the human devices to meet this need.
We should be careful not to get stuck in the secondary and subordinate motives for working as when we would be more interested in getting the job done, or in earning some money, etc. All these latter motives have their legitimate value, but only as support and tools to the primary motive of seeking sanctity, of doing things out of love for God and others.
Looking at the world today, we can realize that a lot still needs to be done to make holiness the be-all and end-all of our life. A lot of catechesis and formation is needed so that everyone will be reassured that this goal of sanctity is objectively for all of us and that it is achievable with God’s grace and our effort.
We have to debunk the belief that some people have that regards holiness as optional, or that it is only meant for some people who are considered to be specially gifted, etc.
We have to know how to neutralize if not convert the many secularizing elements in today’s world into occasions and instruments for our sanctification. We certainly have to consider the temper of the times and learn how to humanize and Christianize it.