How to be a Saint

You know, it may sound odd, but I’ve never been real sure just how to define a saint. There are dictionary definitions and that’s all well and good but when it comes to the individual, the traits, the markings if you will, well, I’ve been stymied for years. I finally decided that a saint would be one that loves God with all his heart, mind and soul and his neighbor as himself. That’s not dictionary but I do believe it’s spiritual. Scriptural as well. But the real question isn’t WHAT a saint is … The REAL question is HOW a saint is. With that in mind I share the following, for what it’s worth.

Years ago I remember reading Proverbs 24:16 for the first time.

“For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin.”

Did not understand this at all. I mean, consider: The good guy falls seven times! How is he better off than the guy that just stumbles? It seems the reverse should be true. A stumble isn’t as bad as a fall. And seven, count ’em, seven falls? Not just one but … Oh well. I just couldn’t figure it out. Maybe it’s obvious to everyone else but it wasn’t to me. Then one day the light came on.

Biblical numerology. Not some sort of occult hocus pocus but the true meaning of numbers in their biblical setting. Seven is known as God’s number. It denotes perfection. When applied to subjects other than God it refers to perfection by way of being complete but not necessarily flawless. Seven is being complete even if not flawless. Like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces put together is complete but is flawed because someone set a coffee mug down on it and left a stain. Complete, but not flawless. I began to understand that the person that fell was perfect, not because they never fell, but because they got up. They got up as many times as it took. They never gave up. The one who stumbled? Doesn’t matter if they ever fell or not. They never made the attempt to stop stumbling. They had given up, given in to the mediocre. “God understands that I can’t do any better. I’m ok the way I am.” Never an attempt at growth or perfection regardless how flawed. This one throws in the towel before entering the ring.

Now sainthood begins to look a tad more realistic. Even attainable. With God’s help. I don’t get up well on my own. On my own? I just stumble along.

“Often it is thought that a saint has to be someone with great ascetic and moral achievements, who might be well revered, but could never be imitated in our own lives. How false and discouraging this opinion is!

“Christ is not so much interested in how often we stumble and fall, as to how often, with His help, we pick ourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you,” from our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Hmmm. Sounds like he read the same verse.

So, how to be a saint? Simple. Keep getting up.

(Simplicity ought never be confused with ease.)

Published in: on September 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm  Comments (2)  
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