“We are all called to be saints.” Sadly, I don’t think I heard this phrase until I was in my late twenties. I remember being told we are called to be holy during catechism growing up, however, I ignorantly never put the two together. I always saw the saints as better than human, I guess. Near angels called by God to impact the word with great and grandiose works. I was reading a Matthew Kelly book when I first heard/read that we are all called to be saints and, boy, was it convicting. At the time I wasn’t even fulfilling my responsibility to attend weekly mass and it became so apparent how little I expected of myself. My standards were low and I had never even imagined that God had sent me here to impact anyone. I was selfish and living completely for myself truly believing I didn’t have much to offer.
Seven years have passed since this enlightenment and I still sometimes struggle to see what I bring to the world’s table. I’m a big picture person, not see the big picture but a big picture, as in “I must save the world!”. Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to see how I can change anything when we witness so much suffering around the globe. How can a lowly mother of four in Nebraska, stop genocide in Syria, upend the abuse crisis in the Catholic church, or finally put an end to abortion?
Just last night I came across a video reportedly from Cameroun of two women, one holding the hand of a small child and another carrying a toddler on her back, being led through dusty, dry terrain until they reached some rocks where they all four were sat down, blindfolded and executed. Two women and two small, beautiful children. I can’t even write this without crying. At first I told myself that I probably shouldn’t watch it but then realized I haven’t hardly heard anything about this country and the horrors its people are facing; the last thing they need is one more person turning away.
This world is in pain and I feel powerless to alleviate any of it. This thought is completely paralyzing and therefore, it is false. Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, once instructed “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Like any goal, making the world a better place must be done one step at a time. Like any mission, sainthood must be completed one choice at a time.
I need to stop being discouraged and crippled by the number and size of the worlds problems; I need to solve one problem for one person many times over.
I need to stop believing I am too big of a sinner and far too selfish to become a saint; I need to target my shortcoming one or two at a time.
In the spirit of Saint Therese of Lisieux I can do small things with great love. I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something. Right now, I can pray, I can fast, I can offer up my sufferings no matter how small; I can keep those women and children in my heart and ask God to lift them up; I can be aware of those around me, open my eyes to their stories and their struggles and provide help and hope. This is what I bring to the world’s table, bite-sized pieces of love and service.