Yesterday was the Solemnity of All Saints! Pope Benedict XVI says that “to become saints means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus…” In saying this he seems to be echoing St. John who writes in his first letter: “beloved: see what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are… Beloved, we are God’s children now…(1 Jn 3:1-2)". St. John and Pope Benedict thus reveal to us that the path to saintly glory begins with the recognition of what we have already received at our baptism, namely, divine sonship! Sanctity is nothing more than our full reception of this awesome gift, our true identity!
Brothers, no one needs to enter religious life or enter a seminary or get married in order to prove something to God; to prove that he is worthy of Love! It’s not about our worthiness, but about His gift: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). Discerning and choosing a vocation is simply a response to our Father’s love for us which comes to us through His Son Jesus. The Church teaches that religious profession—professing and living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience—is “a special and fruitful deepening of the consecration received in Baptism” (Vita Consecrata, 29). Essentially, this means that religious life is all about going deeper in our sonship, our relationship with God our Father! That’s good news! Have courage, God, your Father is calling you!
I would also like to offer a brief thought regarding All Souls Day. Most of us are well aware that we can pray for the poor souls in purgatory; that our prayers actually help them as they continue to be purified along their journey to heaven. However, not everyone is aware that they can pray for us! They can do so because we are members of the same body of Christ, and while they can no longer pray for themselves, their prayers are powerful before the throne of God on our behalf. Therefore, I invite you to consider including them in your discernment, especially if you are struggling to know God’s will or struggling to say yes. One proposal is to ask our Lady, the mother of the entire Body of Christ, to gather up a group of souls in purgatory who also struggled with discernment, or who didn’t discern, or who didn’t discern well—in short, a group of souls that may be in purgatory for not saying a complete yes to their vocation or for dragging their feet in doing so. Offer to pray, through her intercession, that these souls will be released into the arms of Jesus very soon. And then ask her to guide these souls in praying for you as you discern and seek to choose God’s will for your life. Praying to the souls in purgatory is not magic, but it is another way that God our Father helps us along our journey. Isn’t it great to be Catholic?!
God bless you all,
Fr. Isaac Mary Spinharney, CFR
St. Joseph Friary