With the recent beatification of Carlo Acutis, I have had “sainthood” in the forefront of my mind. What issainthood and how can follow in the footsteps of Blessed Carlo and become saints? What leads someone to become a saint and others to lead an “ordinary life”?
After reading a considerable amount of information on the boy-saint, I have determined he did nothing extraordinary, nothing we cannot do ourselves. He simply lived his short life, filling with faith, hope and charity. These three virtues are considered the theological virtues of our church and when lived to the fullest, with much love, they embody sainthood. God freely gives us these ‘gifts of grace’ and it is up to us to accept and use them. These are the virtues by which man relates to God Himself.
We should aim high in our Christian faith. Sainthood is complete selflessness and desire for the Lord. It is an emptying of oneself and longing to be filled with Jesus. During a recent mass, I began praying, “Create in me an ever-increasing desire for you O Lord.” I find I have been repeating this phrase often over the past few weeks.
To attain sainthood in our daily lives, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not something we can do on our own. It is accomplished through prayer and fasting, Holy Eucharist, Confession and, of course, a strong desire. Our church has laid out this path for us through the sacraments. Everyday, we should aspire to grow more deeply in our faith. If we put Jesus first in everything we do and focus on Him, we are able to come closer to Him and thus towards His ideal image of us.
A testimony I recently read, led me to focus of the above virtues of faith, hope and charity, and to desire to live in the spirit more so than ever. This month I added a selection of new books to our Weible Columns bookshelf. (They are all advertised later in this newsletter.) One book titled, “The Warning, Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience” by Christine Watkins, has really deepened my faith and taken it to a whole new level. The book contains a selection of testimonies and each chapter is about a different conversion. One chapter is about a Columbian man named Marino Restrepo and it is this chapter that has really astounded me. Marino Restrepo was born in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. His family was one of strong Catholic faith. As an adult, he started to drift away from Catholicism, he himself says that he became “a pagan,” and his life focused on shallow materialistic matters. Then in 1997, he was kidnapped by Colombian rebels and taken to the jungle where he was held hostage for six months.
At one specific time during Marino’s capture, God allowed him the grace of an Illumination of Conscience. This is the experience many, including myself, believe we will all have immediately after we die, when we meet Jesus face to face and we must give an account for how we have lived our lives. As Marino was shown his many sinful actions during his life, He recounts, “I wanted to sink into my shame, but the Lord kept holding me up. He was trying to save me from myself. The more shame I experienced, the more mercy and love He showed me, in a back-and forth symphony for my salvation.”
As the Lord held him in a mystical embrace, he relates, “I melted into His presence; His aura penetrated me so completely that I felt as if I were united to Him.” Marino tells the reader, “To see the eyes of Jesus Christ is to find the absolute realization, the ultimate fulfillment of our existence.”He goes on to tell us about his meeting with Our Lady, in which he describes, “…The presence of such perfection can only produce in the soul a state of sublime ecstasy.”
Marino concludes, “If I were to live another hundred years, I would not be able to convey even the minimum of all the Lord shared… The only way I can think to express this phenomenon would be to say that everything He (Jesus) spoke of materialized in front of my eyes and was infused into my heart.”
Marino was miraculously released from captivity after a miracle of God, and after his release he went back to his Catholic faith. Eighteen months later he became a full time missionary for the Catholic Church.
Needless to say, I strongly recommend purchasing this book and reading and re-reading most especially this chapter. As Marino describes the power of sin and how it affects our lives, long in to eternity, it has made me constantly aware of my thoughts and actions and their ripple effect. When one has had the opportunity to face Jesus and account for our deeds, it really makes a person aim for sainthood! Marino’s deepest regret was that he had turned away from God and did not continue living his Catholic faith, most especially the sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist. Through the knowledge given to him by God, he explained how leaving the sacrament of confession led him deeper into sin.
St. Padre Pio writes, “It is difficult to become saints, difficult but not impossible. The road to perfection is long, just as long as a lifetime. Consolation is rest along the way, but as soon as your strength is restored, you must get up diligently and continue the race.”
Our Lady’s message of January 02, 2019 certainly encourages us to increase our resolve. “…Faith is being extinguished in many souls, and hearts are being grasped by material things of the world. But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son - then, in this way, they are also seeking me… My children, apostles of my love, I am teaching you that my Son is not only asking for continuous prayers, but also for works and feelings - that you believe, that you pray, that with your personal prayers you grow in faith, that you grow in love. To love each other is what He asks for - that is the way to eternal life...”
Profound spiritual joy can be found when we live our faith as God intended us to and we become saints. Remember, “Keep your eye fixed on the goal - eternal life!”
By Judith Weible
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