Standing quietly in the hospital elevator, I shifted rather uncomfortably in my oversized habit and sensible shoes and tried not to look as miserable as I felt. I was 14 years old and horrified that a friend from school might recognize me as I paraded in public as a Carmelite nun. As far as I was concerned, this was a form of punishment worse than bathroom cleaning duty. But for my grandmother, who was near the end of her time on this earth, a visit from her patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, was a gift beyond compare.
Once I set aside my teenage embarrassment, I was honored to give my grandmother comfort. I knew how devoted she was to St. Therese and how passionately she believed in honoring God in little ways. She taught me that it doesn’t take an official canonization by the Catholic Church in order to be saintly – that we can all live like saints by spending our lives glorifying Him in little ways. My mother often called my grandmother a saint – because it was clear how much she loved God and others though her actions. Whether she was making our favorite spaghetti, hosting a party, or reading us a story, she did it with a heart of service.
I don’t claim to live up to my grandmother’s standards, but I do know that living like a saint is within reach for all of us. That we are all called to be holy in little ways, just like St. Therese, who was known for completing even the most mundane and ordinary tasks with great love, dignity and devotion. While most of us Christian moms are not serving others in African missions, we do have the ability (and responsibility) to live like saints in our daily lives.
There’s no blueprint or step-by-step plan on how to live like a saint. But I suspect the path to sainthood begins with the basics:
1. Love one another. The foundation of our faith declares that we cannot serve others if we do not have a heart of love and compassion for them. It’s super easy for me to love my children and family, but what about the obnoxious woman on the customer service line or the person who always complains or the colleague who treated me unfairly?
2. Start in your own home. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my family gets to see the worst side of me. I spend the day serving and smiling for others, and by dinnertime I’m depleted and exhausted. I let my frustration out on them by snapping and the children and picking an argument with my husband. I forget that my very first mission, as a saintly mom, is to glorify God in my own home.
“Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” – Lisa Hendey, A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms
3. Profess your faith. This means standing up for what is right, even when it makes you unpopular. We have no problem teaching our children this principle but do we always practice it ourselves? Do we sit at a lunch table full of women and allow them to gossip – or participate in it? Do we take the opportunity to evangelize when we are called to do so? Even if it means messing up our schedule to spend time with someone?
4. Know that your reward awaits in Heaven. Saints are not officially recognized by the Church until years (often decades) after their death. So why do we expect to be rewarded each time we honor and serve God? I get hung up on this all the time – wanting to be acknowledged in a thankless job. Maybe I need to remember that the glory – even in the little things – is not mine to take.
5. Follow those who have gone before you. The best inspiration for living a holy life is to study the lives and deeds of saintly women and men. To surround ourselves with godly people who encourage us to be our best selves. That’s why having a Sisterhood of Christian moms is so important to me. And it’s why I love reading and learning about others who devote their lives to God in my friend Lisa Hendey’s A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul.
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Tell me how you live like a saint or what helps you remember to honor God in little ways.