The Saints, The Pivotal Players

In the course of the history of the Catholic Church there have been men and women whose lives so transformative and inspiring and who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, conformed themselves so drastically to Christ that they powerfully impacted not only the Church but the whole world. We call them saints. They are important because they have taken seriously Jesus’ summon to evangelize the whole world (Mt 28:18-20). If they were alive today they would know how to “make the Church of the twentieth century ever more fitted for proclaiming the Gospel to the people of the twentieth century”. They would know how to re-evangelize “countries with ancient Christian roots that are abandoning the church in great numbers, reach out to entire groups of the baptized who have lost a living sense of the faith, …and so live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel.” They would know how to respond to the church’s call for a new evangelization.cs

Although we celebrate particular saints on a daily basis, they are held so highly in the eyes of church, a whole day is dedicated in their honor. That’s what ‘All Saints Day’ is all about. These are men and women who have lived such exemplary and extraordinary lives, the whole world is fascinated by them. they have made the world a better place by their peculiar choice of life. their supernatural and intoxicating fragrance of their holy lives inspire countless sinners to change their lives from a filthy dunghill to a place of prime rest. What is beautiful about them is that anyone, regardless of position, class, gender, race, location, condition, can befriend and invite them in his/her intimate lives fearlessly. With them, one’s secrets are always safe; advices are drawn from the wisest reservoir. They are an absolute and sure measure of one’s growth in virtue. if we borrow lessons from their authentic lives, it is a guarantee that we will be wise and do well. They have lived in different period in history, but their relentless commitment to seek the meaning of life, find purpose and happiness, true love, and alleviate others’ pain make them the most sought after figures in the whole world.

lf-at-8phIn the eve of this great feast of All Saints, it is with a spirit of gratitude that we should reminisce these outstanding men and women who have helped us so much in our journey of self-discovery. Who of us can find the adequate word to express the gift that is St. Augustine to this world? Had he left us simply the Confessions that would have been sufficient for it is a depthless treasure whose bottom is fathomless. How many are happier and more virtuous and living life more meaningfully because they have read him? Will we ever know the influence that St. Therese’s Story of a Soul has had on people from all walks of life? Everyone can relate to her life notwithstanding her too short life. Therese of Lisieux enamored the world with the most beautiful way of approaching life. in her ‘Little Way’ is the key that unlocks the secret box of life’s meaning. What to say of mother Teresa, Catherine of Siena, St. Lawrence, St. Gregory, St. John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis de Sales, Blessed Laura Vicuna, Our Blessed Lady, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Dominic Savio, St. John Vianney, St, Monica, St. Thomas More, St. Giana, St. Rose de Lima, and countless men and women whose examples have touched millions? I call them my “Little Army”; they have pushed me everyday to become the masterpiece I was created to be.lv

What about them that captivate and intrigue the imaginations of the whole world, be it religious, indifferent, Nones, atheists, agnostics? I think it is their extraordinarily ordinary lives; they unlock something supernaturally natural in the heart of everyone. They have taught us how to fulfill what is required of all of us, but failed in daily, namely, “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

They are icons of simplicity. Life can be so complicated. They have simplified everything; they have shown us that as long as we keep our eyes fixed on the North Star i.e. God, we will weather anything. They know the one thing to and for which it is worth giving their lives, and they comprehend what to let swung by. Their way of life is life a draft of spring water in the desert heat. Their bright normalcy, simple modesty, and plain humility reveal to us how to tame our complex and proud bestiality. They show us what we could become if we stay on course.

The saints are natural. Although they lived a life worth holding as a mirror for all to look at themselves in, if you had met them, there would be nothing particular extraordinary about their lives. As Diognetus beautifully expounds in his letter, “they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in as long as it is not contrary to reason and right conduct. They play their full role as citizens”. Yes their virtue stands out very pointedly, but they were not unusual. “They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of grace. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. They live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven”. They were a natural flower in the garden of the world, but one not easily succumbs to the power of the scorching sun. Many a time, they went unnoticed because they fit in so well. but they have won the prize; they are at peace forever.Host_004

All of them show us that our vocation is primarily love. How we live that love can be left to our creative imagination. They showed us that even the most uneventful life could become holy by living that life with love. They are highly influential models of sanctity because of the simplicity and practicality of their approach to life. Millions are touched by their intercession and have imitated their lives as a mean to get to the ultimate end.

Many of them transform their surroundings not by the power of their intellect, not by their ability to befriend the powerful and the wealthy, not by their position, but by their commitment to a life of virtue. Through that, they’ve accomplished the unimaginable. Through a life of witness to the gospel, fasting and penances, long hours of Eucharistic adoration, countless hours in prayers, they changed lives. Let these powerful men and women change yours. Learn how they find the most important thing and master it. Learn how they formed habits that helped them master the most important thing. What’s your purpose in life? Find one. Develop the habits that can help you to achieve it. Embrace or discard whatever that can lead you to the purpose. As mark twain once said, the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why”. You don’t find to look far; the day you were born is definitely a special day. That’s probably one of the happiest days for your parents, but the reason why you’re here is to love, worship, reverence God, and by doing so saves your soul. How best to do this is what the saints showed it. Seat at their school and learn.

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The Most Important Thing

In a wide-reaching survey, 179 people were asked what is [the] most important thing in life? Their answers ranged from love, health, friendship, happiness, peace, helping others, freedom, women, family, money, I don’t know, respect, the environment, oxygen etc. It is indubitable that all these things are important because they contribute tremendously to our well-being. But something is lacking in this answer for it is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness (Summa Theologiae II, Q 1, art 8), according to Aquinas. The most important thing in life must include something that remains when all is taken away. It must be something sustainable. The most important thing in life must be sufficient unto itself and be beneficial to us. It must provide safety and confidence in the midst of the storms of life. Whatever it is, I believe it must be something that keeps us going against all odds. But none of the answers seems to have those rudimentary elements. So are the aforementioned elements the most important thing in life?

To be fair to the responders however, there was an answer that I found striking. Someone said the most important thing in life is to find our purpose and pursue it. Yes purpose. We are purpose-driven people. We thrive best when we know what we want out of life. We are each created with a purpose and there is no greater sweetness to life than finding that purpose. Without hesitation, purpose is one of the most important things in life. Thus, it is fitting to want to find that purpose and pursue it as if there is no tomorrow. Life truly begins when we find that purpose. Finding our purpose makes us capable of living life with passion; it gives us the desire to wake up even when we are exhausted. It creates that burning drive in our deepest self to keep going even when going is almost impossible. It gives us our raison d’etre. My goal, your goal, your children’s goal, your friends and coworkers’ goal must be to find that purpose and follow it. Without a doubt, a purpose-driven life is a gift with which we need to grace our life, but is it the most important thing in life remains a puzzle yet to be solved?

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If we believe that God exists and has power over life, death, and our destiny, if God knows every single hair in our head, and knows our future before we were in the womb, he has to be the most important thing in life. The most important thing in life has got to be holiness. Since he is the most important, we want to be like him. “Be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 20:26). Holiness means to be intellectually, spiritually, physically, and emotionally set apart for the pursuit of excellence. Unless we actively pursue such a life, life has not really begun. Once we put on that attitude, a new vision of life is created. Family, friends, money, power… are seen for what they are. Even if they are taken away, we will still have something, should I say someone, to rely on. No matter what happens, life remains meaningful. We are able to differentiate lie from truth. No existential neurosis is possible for our eyes are fixed on the proper goal and so we can scale any wall and go through any barrier. Without God as the picture, when we come to see these things for what they are and realize that we cannot cling to them, it may be too late to reach the substantial reality.

Holiness as the most important in life bails us out of this spinning torpedo. It makes us stand out. adoration With holiness, we can endure all things because we are not rooted in the ephemeral. It allows us to see this present life as the wing that carries us to what is eternal. Our inspiration comes from the one who tells that everything works for good for those who believe. If we understand God as the most important thing in life, and choose holiness for his sake, no mountains will ever be too steep to climb. He will always be there to transform the impossible to possible. He will always be a lodestar guiding us during the dark night of the soul. We will know no abandonment because it is against his nature to do so. So no crisis will be insurmountable. Living this is the most important thing in life.

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When you finally understand that holiness is the most important thing in life and embrace it with your whole essence, then you will understand that there is more to life than this. It is a waste to be caught in this corner of yours without embracing this monumental dream that God has in store for you. Embrace holiness, then you will feel like a child feels whether earthquakes, or wars are coming. You will know what it means to experience a genuine laughter. You will know what it means to feel God’s presence guiding you as if his very hands were pointing you on and his voice was whispering in your ears. You will know why some look at the sunset or stand before a painting board and weep. There is more. You are more. Choose more.

How to Best Live Life

This simple question has been the concern of thinkers in every period in history. However, it seems that our culture seems to characterize these kinds of questions as unnecessary because, as they say, they are the fruit of primitive thinking, or psychological hang-up, or simply they don’t help put food on the table. Whenever we will to rise above our imagination, it can be observed that things work for the sake of an end. So, we too are not spared from this natural phenomenon of life. As Thomas Aquinas says, “it is characteristic of man to do everything for an end” (ST II-I, 1, 1). That means every action we do, we do it for the sake of an end. Corollary to that statement, we have an end. Everything has an end. For instance, a chair’s end is to provide seating for people; a car’s end is to bring people wherever they want to go very quickly; nature’s end is to provide oxygen, beauty, location, good condition for human beings to flourish; the weather’s end is to furnish good season so we can grow the appropriate crops… according to our needs. The question is rightly asked: how should we live life in order to become the best person possible? In other words, how do we need to live in order to fulfill our end? Philosophers have proposed many different ways we can live in order to be as flourishing as possible. In this post, I will expose Kant and Christianity’s proposal on how to best live life
Kant’s first proposal on how to best live life is his Categorical Imperative. It states that a person is to “act only in accordance with that maxim through which he/she can at the same time will that it becomes a universal law”. If whatever we are doing can be universalized i.e. it would not caused any morally harm if everyone does it, then we can pursue it. Otherwise, it would be wise to jettison it. Kant’s second proposal is that we should never act in such a way that we treat Humanity as a means but always as an end in itself. Well, there is nothing wrong with these proposals if people did not want to get their way out of everything. It is unbelievable how much many people are not even trying to be honest. Since it is the case, they give voice to many who think Kant’s proposal is confusing, or cannot really be universalized. Why is it hard to not do to others what you yourself dislike? Kant’s way can keep the world together, but many prefer to conjure up issues that have never existed. Who can deny that if something cannot be universalized, it is probably wrong? Who can deny that all human beings must be intrinsically valued, and so must never be treated as means?
We are wired for God. As the great Augustine says, “O God, you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in thee” (confessions I). It is true the technological advancement that our world has known surpassed our wildest expectations. We can sit here in America and instantly experience what is happening in Japan. I can testify to this since I see any soccer game live in Europe though I don’t live there. But the human heart longs for something that they sciences or technology can never deliver. We are yearning for something that lies beyond the limited human mind. “Only in God is our soul at rest”, the psalmist said. Only when we are living in communion with God can we find what we are looking for. That is the Christian message. Anyone who denies that will experience this for himself. No one can deny that he does not long for infinite happiness that he does not find in anything earthly. All pleasures we have experienced so far are ephemeral. They come and go. So, what are we to do in order that our yearning may one day be satisfied? That is what Christianity is; she proposes the answer to our longing. The answer is Jesus Christ, but it is intrinsically dependent on us to choose and embrace Him with our heart, mind, soul, and every fiber of our being. Three principles are proposed by Christianity on how to best live life and at the end reach something that can satiate our longing. The first principle is to become holy. Holiness is man’s first vocation. Aquinas calls this ‘human flourishing’; some motivational speakers call it ‘the best-version-of-ourselves’. Is it not true that we all would like to become the best person we can be? Is it not true that we all have an ideal for ourselves? It seems to be that there are two versions of each of us. The one that we actually are, and the one that God wants us to become. Christianity offers the best mean to reach that ideal self. No one in their right mind can reject such a view altogether. The second is to become virtuous. Virtue is at the heart of the Christian life. The more virtuous we become, the easier it is for us to reach holiness, flourishing, or the best version of ourselves. The more virtuous we are, the more our neighbor, society, church, and family benefit. The whole world prefers virtue to vice. Something vicious committed by one man hurts not only the wretched person, but also the family of the hurt. The third principle that Christianity proposes on how to best live life is to cultivate love. We need to start advertising a culture of life ground on firm examples that inspire others to choose God’s way above vengeance. We need to publicly live and make choices that testify our Christian faith. When we get the opportunities, we need to make it count so deeply that no one can resist asking us what inspires us to act like that. There will be occasions to refuse suing someone because we choose to forgive though we are hurt. We leave justice to God. Living this way is living for the end for which we were created. Yes, each of us has a vocation that will most fulfill us. However, most of us will never find out that vocation. Therefore, as Christian, we need to develop the best version of ourselves and live it as no one else could.
I am not talking about anything abstract. All of us know how to be kind. We all know we must help those in needs. We all know that we can love more. The question is: are we doing with all our heart, mind, strength, will, and intellect? I am asking that we do these in ways that reflect the best version of who we are. Action follows upon being. What we do reflects who we are. Who we are is not mediocrity. We are made for greatness. We cannot simply help. We must be the greatest helper we can possibly be. We cannot afford to simply be kind. We need to be the kindest person we can be. We need to live in ways that show greatness. Do you think this is the best you can can give at what you are doing? Are you the best son you can be? The best neighbor, friend, coworker, student, Christian you can be right now? Ok, you’re probably not, but is this the best you can do? Do you think you can live in accordance with the greatness that you are? Mother Teresa said, “Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness in your eyes, smile, and greeting”. When we are virtuous, we benefit as well. A virtuous act expands our heart and brings us a sense of achievement and self-realization. When you develop these characteristics, you reach the end for which you were created. Don’t ever give it up.
That is my proposal. Would you like to propose a way, too? Feel welcomed.