THE SAINTS HAD THEIR DEFECTS AS WELL.
ST. PETER, ST. PAUL, ST. AUGUSTINE, ST. MARY MAGDALENE….WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON? They are great saints who committed sins ─even grave sins ─, and some led immoral lives prior to their conversion…
- St. Peter denied Christ thrice;
- St. Thomas the Apostle was incredulous;
- St. Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion, was instrumental to the martyrdom of St. Stephen;
- St. Mary Magdalene was adulterous;
- St. Augustine had a child out of wedlock and was an intellectual arrogant;
- St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola were worldly men;
- St. Teresa of Avila stumbled on vanity;
- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was picky on food such that she hated cheese just by seeing it;
- St. Alfonso Maria de Liguori had an irascible character
- and the list goes on….
Though having their own share of defects…we all do and only those who don’t have defects are now in heaven…they knew how to be humble. They confessed their sins, asked for forgiveness and struggled to change their ways. In the process, they have fallen once more; and, untiringly stood up and struggled till the end for love of God…reaching thus their ultimate goal with God’s grace and their loving correspondence.
Conversion is possible as long as we ask the grace from God and be willing to correspond to his grace. Nevertheless, the path to holiness is a continuous, constant, and untiring conversion throughout our life, committed with the help of God’s grace to uproot our defects, fight against temptations, return to God with humility and repentance, all for love of God, and renewing our desire to fight in this divine spiritual combat everyday and many times during the day, and persevering in it until the moment God calls us to his presence.
Let us remember, however, that the road to holiness, the fulness of charity (St. Josemaria) is not a smooth and easy ride. On the contrary, we will be following Christ’s footsteps to Calvary, carrying his Cross and trying daily to put a smile in our lips and with serenity. And as Christ stumbled along the way falling into the ground, we, too, shall have our own falls.
I am going to summarise your clinical history: here I fall and there I get up. The latter is what matters. So continue with that interior struggle, even though you go at the pace of the tortoise. Forward!St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 173
You know well, my son, where you can end up, if you don’t fight: one depth leads to another and another.”
In our path towards holiness, we shall have victories and defeats; light and darkness, ups and downs. Many times we shall not feel anything, but pleasing and loving God ultimately is what will spur us to continue to fight and do what is good. We shall not come out always triumphant. Many times, we shall suffer defeat. But instead of wallowing in discouragement and giving up, let us get up again and not allow ourselves to be paralysed by our errors and throw the towel to the devil’s amusement and satisfaction.
What matters is that we are humble and contrite enough to ask pardon from God in the sacrament of Confession, get up, and begin again, convinced that God does not spurn a contrite heart. Great consolation it is for us to be convinced of God’s patience and mercy!
As St. Josemaria wrote:
The saints are those who struggle right to the end of their lives, who always get up each time they stumble, each time they fall, and courageously embark on their way once more with humility, love and hope.Forge, n. 186
You and I…we too are sinners…called by God to become holy, to become saints, in spite of our defects, our errors, our past, our infidelities, right there where God has placed us…
So? Move on then, dear brethren, and with God’s grace, let us fill ourselves with hope in our daily journey towards holiness, out of love for God!
Stay safe always and God bless! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
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Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei.
PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Rubens, “Christ and Mary Magdalene” in ranasafvi2012.files.wordpress.com