Fr. James Martin, S.J.: To be a saint, just be who you are
Last week, we talked about the saints as both our patrons and our companions. They both pray for us from their posts in heaven and serve as our models. But sometimes people feel that the saints are so far away from them, that their ways of life are unattainable, and so they couldn’t possibly be their models. People say, “Oh, I could never be Mother Teresa and work in a hospice in Calcutta and take care of the sick and dying!” But of course you’re not meant to do exactly what Mother Teresa did, or even be who Mother Teresa was. Now, you might be called to work with the poor, and maybe in a slum, and maybe even in India, but you’re not called to do it exactly like her. You’re not supposed to be Mother Teresa.
Too often we short circuit God’s plans for our own holiness by comparing ourselves to some other saint or saying that we can’t possibly be a saint in our own daily lives. People say, “I’m just a student.” “I’m just a teacher.” “I’m just a grandparent.” But you’re not “just” anything, because God has created you as a beautiful and unique person. So you’re called to be a saint in your own way. As the Trappist monk Thomas Merton said, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” So maybe it’s time to stop trying to be like someone else. Stop looking at someone else’s roadmap to holiness. Because all the directions you have are inside your heart. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that perfectly well.”