Last night, as I was helping out with Confirmation class at my Parish, we talked about the saints, how to become one — it’s one of those simple six step processes — and how to go about picking a new name. It was all beautiful and inspiring, especially with the presence and help of two of the Parish priests spending time with the confirmandi.
As I was flipping through a favorite book of mine on the saints, I thought of how I wish we would have shared this quote with these young, enthusiastic and potential filled high schoolers.
From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents, of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character, and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances. If St. Aloysius had been as I am, he would have become holy in a different way. – Blessed Pope John XXIII
It speaks so powerfully to becoming the holy followers of Jesus we are meant to be only according to who God created us to be. And, as Blessed John XVIII wrote, our efforts in living these holy lives will be all the more effective if we embrace and live the virtues all those holy men and women who went before us gave witness to so brightly.
It’s extra appropriate that we be inspired by Bl. John XXIII at this time of year, as we are a mere 24 days away from kicking off the incredible Year of Faith. During this year, which in part is commemorating the start of the Second Vatican Council, we are going to be asked to spend time getting inside the great minds of our Holy Father and those who came before him. While doing so, we will ask ourselves this same recurring question: What does it take to be a saint in the world today?