The details of the dreams vary, but not their theme. It’s always anxiety. I’m again a college freshman, and I’m signed up for Math 101. Trouble is, it’s finals week, and I didn’t know that I was enrolled in the course. I figure that I might still pass it—in real life I had been exempted from it—if I can only find out where the final is being held. I wander the campus, asking, but no one knows.
I’m again in a high school play. My part is small, and I don’t go on stage until the second act. I play a Pie Judge at the county fair, who urges the heroine and her sister to take their pies to the State Fair. Trouble is, the curtain has risen, and I’ve only just learned that I’m in the play. I reckon that I can act the part, learn the lines before Act II arrives, if only I could find the script. But all the actors have meticulously followed the instructions of the director. They are “off script,” and there are none to be found back stage.
I’m a priest, in the middle of Mass, but the missal in front of me is new. I have never seen it before this moment, and I can’t find the proper prayers. I flip, more and more frenetically, through its unknown pages, while the congregation waits.
There’s a worse version. I’m ready for Mass, but, as I check to see that my chasuble is hanging properly, I realize that I have nothing on under it. Not a sacred stitch. What am I to do? Mass is starting. Move very, very slowly?
The details of the dreams vary, but never the theme. It’s always anxiety. We worry that, at the worst possible moment, we won’t be ready. Life itself will find us wanting, and everyone will know it.
We celebrate the Solemnity of All the Saints. It’s a good time to remember that there is really only one thing about which we should be anxious. Are we fulfilling the purpose of our lives, of our very existence? Are we becoming saints? In the end—at the end—that’s the one thing that matters: not to be found wanting before God. To become a saint is the reason we were created. We come from utter truth, shear goodness, absolute beauty, and all that we do on earth, all that truly matters, is to return our lives, sanctified in their seasons, to their source, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Anxiety and sanctity are diametric. Most of what makes us anxious has nothing to do with holiness. It’s woven from the mundane, the personal and the petty. It passes. We need to remember that. When holiness is the focus of our life, anxiety begins to fade.
What does it mean to pursue holiness? To become a saint? It’s so simple. Do what life hands you today, with as much peace and joy as your prayers can muster. Your lesser self will suggest that these daily tasks are trivial and unacknowledged. The Spirit, who dwells within you, will insist that God and the angels watch. They observe what will become eternal in your labors. You are anxious over that which will pass.
Still unsure if your anxiety is well placed? Write down the worries of your day in a column. In an adjoining column, write out the Beatitudes. Now, compare those two lists. Either your worries will become trivial, or you will know that they deserve all that you can give.
Be anxious not to be found wanting before the throne of God. Time is not exhaustible. It will end for you as it does for all. Nonetheless, life is now crafting something eternal from these temporal tasks: your sanctified soul.
Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14 1 John 3: 1-3 Matthew 5: 1-12a