How to Become a Saint
A Fantastic life with God is waiting for those who answer the call
If you want to become a saint that is great! What a fantastic life and eternity of joy awaits us! To become a saint all you need is a firm determination to live The Word perfectly–to never offend God again–and to live a life of penance so to atone for your sins.
To do this, we are going to learn how to stop spending our time in pursuit of worldly goals and all of the pleasures and comforts of the world that we run to looking for happiness and learn how to spend our time more perfectly loving God. Let’s learn The Way.
“Become a saint, and do so quickly [we don’t know when our hour will come].
— Pope St. John Paul II
We Must Seek to Become a Saint to Be Saved
Did you know, we can’t live our lives being complacent with our sinfulness if we wish to embrace God’s saving forgiving mercy (to be saved). A lot of people are unaware that, if we wish for God to save us, we MUST be striving to become “perfectly holy” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Therefore, we simply must work hard to become saints.
It just makes sense. How can we honestly tell God we love Him and that we are sorry for offending Him, so to accept His saving forgiving mercy, if we don’t want to become saints and would rather stay in our sins…loving our worldly, self-indulgent way of life? We can’t. We would be lying.
God, who reads the heart knows very well, we don’t sincerely love Him nor even want to love Him–to stop offending Him and truly follow Him-if we don’t wish to work hard to sanctify our souls. When we do this, we reject saving forgiving mercy for our sins, which is tragic!
Strive to Become Perfect
Unlike popular thinking, to be saved or become a saint, we can’t just strive to become the best person we can be. I mean, well, technically that is true…but what is the best person we can be?…”perfect: without sin.”
Yes, it is possible to obtain so much of God’s grace to where we never choose to sin again. Sure, there is a certain level of perfection, even above not sinning, that can’t be obtained until we leave our sinful bodies and arrive in Heaven, but “sin[ing] no more” (John 8:11) is most possible and must be our goal.
Since that day [when I had made my Act of Oblation on June 9, 1895], love has surrounded me and penetrated me through and through. Moment by moment, the Merciful Love of God renews and cleanses me and leaves my heart without a trace of sin.”
–St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Striving for anything less is living a life accepting our sin. How can we truly love God if we are complacent with anything less than seeking perfection (seeking to perfectly love God)? We can’t.
The Word tells us we must “walk the path of perfection” (Psalm 26:1), striving to become “perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” This is The Way to Heaven.
Therefore, striving to “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34)–to become a real saint–is the path we must take. This is how we really love and obey God. This is how we allow God to transform our hearts that desire sin, into hearts that truly love and desire God alone. Anything else is disobedience and a rejection of God–The Word made flesh.
Remember only saints go to Heaven, not unrepentanted, unatoned for sinners. Therefore, if we won’t love God enough to work with all of our hearts to stop offending Him–to change our entire lives to truly follow Him–loving the cross, striving to become perfectly holy–a true self-sacrificing perfect saint–we will reject it all.
But, not to worry, to do this isn’t hard; or should I say, it isn’t hard after we obtain a true desire to sanctify our souls. Once we obtain a desire great enough to do what is necessary to modify our life, then God’s grace will do the rest.
“I want to pour out My divine life into human souls and sanctify them, if only they were willing to accept My grace.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
Ok, hopefully we are now motivated and have some real desire to become a saint. Sure many of us will still lack the desire needed to sanctify our souls, but if you have a desire great enough to do something then we can begin.
If our desire is too faint we won’t be able to change any of our life. So obtaining a great desire for sanctity is a must and it is something we will continue to obtain along this journey. To grow in our desire beg God, His angels and saints, especially The Blessed Mother for help. Also, please read the home page article “Why Very Few Christians Are Saved” and St. Alphonsus’ Book “The Way of Salvation [to a Saving Faith] and Perfection”, pray “The Precious Blood of Jesus Devotion.” and participate in the sacraments of the Church.
To become a saint isn’t as hard as we might think. We might be clueless at first and don’t know what to do, but that is OK. God will teach us as we go and show us what needs to be done with each step along the way.
God has provided us with everything we need within ourselves, through the profits, the saints, The Church and it’s sacraments, The Word and much more. Really, the only thing that makes it hard to sanctify our souls is our lack of will. But as we progress, if we are accepting God’s grace, our desire for sanctity should grow, making this path easier and easier.
Surrender Our Will
To become a saint we must learn how to surrender our will. That is really the fullness of this entire journey. I know in this web-site I talk a lot about stopping our sins…but really I only mention that because we have forgotten God wills us to not sin. However, to obtain salvation and eternal life, everything is really based on letting go of our sinful/self-loving will and embracing God’s perfect will…the perfect plan for our salvation and sanctification.
Even though when God created us He gave us a desire to do good, from being tainted with original sin, we now have a GREAT desire to love ourselves and not God. This desire is so great that it taints all of the “good” we do. Without God’s constant assistance (grace), we can’t rid it from our lives.
To become a saint or even saved, we must seek God to remove our will, which is one of desiring sin (inclined to sin) and replace it with His will, which one of TRULY hating sin and loving God…truly desiring good.
We might think we truly hate sin and truly love God, but if we haven’t been toiling and toiling away begging God for mercy (grace) to remove our great desire for sin, then I promise you, the hatred for sin and love for God, we think we have, simply can’t be true. We are just deceived. To learn more please read, “What is the Desire to Sin?”
To obtain such a great faith, we must constantly, sincerely seek Mercy, work hard and suffer much to obtain enough grace to gain a hatred for sin and love for God that is true (obtain a saving faith). We don’t obtain a saving faith the moment recognize Jesus as Lord or after our Baptism, we must seek Mercy, through out our lives, to give us a saving faith. Please don’t be deceived.
Truly, from suffering the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, everything we desire is sinful in some way….yes, everything. We are NOTHING. Without God’s grace moving us…consuming our every thought, word and deed, everything we do, in some way (even if we can’t see it), is bearing self-love.
And this is how God saves us, He removes our self-love and replaces it with true love…He gives us a new heart. He removes our love for sin and gives us a sincere hatred for sin. God gives us a love for Him and a sorrow for our offences against Him which is TRUE (not tainted with self-love), which can accept His saving forgiving mercy, so we, sinners, can be saved from our sins and live forever in Heaven.
Then, after we grow from some belief in Christ into obtaining this saving faith from Jesus, if we keep on seeking God, His grace will give us a love for Him so perfect that it atones for our life time of offences against Him, so when we die we go right to Heaven as saints. And if we continue to grow in faith, we can obtain so much grace from God that His Love (grace) constantly renews within us removing our entire ability to choose sin, making us perfect saints. Wonderful!
We Follow Jesus?
Jesus gave us His Word and His wonderful example of how to become a saint–teaching us how to live our lives so we can learn how to surrender our will for God’s will and atone for our sins. If we follow Him correctly, we most certainly will sanctify our souls.
To become a saint we must be willing to follow Christ by working to:
- stop all of our sins (seek God’s will and not our sinful will),
- carry all of the crosses God allows in our lives without worry or complaint (trust in Him, learn from them and change), and
- deny ourselves of all we enjoy in the world that isn’t God and His will for the salvation of souls (live a life of penance).
Yes, to become a saint we must live our lives finding our joy in loving God (working towards never offending Him) and saving souls (suffering and sacrificing) so Christ can use the grace from our crosses to send to others for their conversion, like Christ did for us.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake [I rejoice in my suffering to send you grace], and in my flesh I am filling up [for myself, through my suffering, I’m obtaining grace as well] what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ [since more grace is needed to convert our hard hearts] on behalf of his body, which is the Church [as I strive to save the souls of the faithful in the Church]” (Colossians 1:24).
To follow Christ to sanctity, we must follow Christ by way of the cross. All of the joy we sought through sin and the world’s pleasures, we will need to learn how to obtain grace and leave…so God’s true love and joy can fill us.
We need God to transform our hearts so we can love the cross:
- suffer rather than sin,
- suffer rather than reject a cross,
- suffer rather than indulge in the world’s pleasures.
Striving to become a saint by way of the cross is so vital to salvation that St. Louis de Montfort says “anyone amoung you who has not this firm resolve [to become a saint]…is enough to spoil the whole flock [of faithful]…he is not worthy of being called a friend of the Cross…If any such one has slipped into your fold through the contaminated door of the world, then in the name of the crucified Christ, drive him out as you would a wolf from your sheepfold.”
Therefore, we must avoid or pay little attention to friends, family and even religious who aren’t aspiring to become true self-sacrificing saints (living for the cross). Their bad examples and confusing/wrongful preaching are enough to lead anyone astray.
We must follow the true way to Christian holiness.
“Christian holiness consists in this:
1. Resolving to become a saint: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine;”
2. Self-denial: “Let him renounce himself;”
3. Suffering: “Let him take up his cross;”
4. Acting: “Let him follow me.”
–St. Louis de Montfort
Many have been deceived into believing becoming a saint is through doing many good works. I’m mean, sure anyone who knows God at all will have works, so of course saints have many works. But many of the damned have done great works too. So that surely isn’t The Way.
The evil one has us put our focus on works, so he can us our pride to confuse us, and cause us to strive for works…and not how to better love God.
To become a saint is found by striving to surrender our will for God’s (to lose our desire for sin and the world) and following Christ by Way of the Cross (suffering and self-denial) so we can love God and not offend Him.
“For on it [the road of suffering] the most perfect virtue is practiced–humility, submission, meekness, charity, resignation to the Divine good pleasure [trust in God’s will]; and with these a solid foundation is laid upon which can then be built the greatest grace and most sublime holiness. This is the true imitation of Jesus Christ, and the way He has taught us by His doctrine and example; and it never fails.”
–St. Anthony Mary Claret
Life of Joy Awaits
When we learn how to live a life of love of the cross (self-denial/suffering), we too will have the joy of the saints. The saints lived lives of great peace and joy…not a false joy like much of the world displays, but true joy which is only found through suffering…like when things go very wrong….the saints delight in God’s will as He wills them with His love.
Yes, when we are on the correct path towards sanctity our “bad” or “grumpy” days will end…and we will be constantly content with all God allows to occur, cross and all. We won’t want our will, just His. And of course, we will obtain Eternal Life–which is hopefully all believers goal.
Most don’t realize this road to sanctity is filled with greater joy than any pleasure in the world can bring. We see the saints who live lives of great suffering and sacrificing, but rejoicing in the cross. Of course it is true, until we receive God’s fantastic grace, most of our suffering and sacrificing will still remain a joyless burden. But we can wait in joyful hope for God’s grace which delivers “peace beyond all understanding.”
When we begin to walk with Christ correctly, and grow in grace and more grace, what we couldn’t bear to endure, what we used to run from, what was the cause of all of our problems, will be the cause of our greatest joys. Yes, God gives His saints and even those who are aspiring sanctity, FANTASTIC JOY in the cross. Believe! To learn more please read, “How to Find True Happiness.”
There is no other way to sanctity except through the cross, and boy does God not disappoint. Not, that those on the correct path will seek out any reward in that pursuit of this life with Christ, we just desire to LOVE HIM, but God most certainly delivers wonderful happiness to the truly humble contrite heart that is loving God–through the cross–for the salvation of souls.
Calling for All
Like I said, this path the saints chose is for everyone. Yes, you. Even if you have never prayed a prayer, this is the path God wants you to take to obtain Eternal Life. There is no other way. You can’t decide you just want to become a better person, you must decide today you love God enough that you want to do what is necessary to become a real saint.
Some of us have been confused into believing becoming a saint isn’t a calling for us but for someone else because we view all saints as a supernatural superhero of sorts, making the idea of becoming a saint not obtainable.
But that simply isn’t true. Sure God calls some people to do, what we see as, “bigger works” than others and from God’s grace working through some people many of their works are quite miraculous. God also gives great mystical experiences to some and not so much to others, as we see with some saints too.
Nevertheless, if we really look into the different saints lives, we can clearly see they came from various walks of life, from royalty to peasants, from rich to poor, from well educated to non-educated, from highly intelligent to having little intelligence, from people given great gifts, talents and abilities to others with seemingly little outward blessings. All the saints are vastly different and have done greatly different things for the love of God. But regardless of the differences they all have, the desire to surrender their all to love God remains the same. We just need to find what God wills of us–in ever thought we think, word we utter and action we perform–(yes, God’s plan for us is much bigger then most understand) and strive with all of our hearts to do it too. Then we will become real saints. To learn more please read, “What is God’s Will.”
No matter what kind of gifts or works God has planned for each of us or what spiritual experiences He has in store, God created each of us, with a special plan on how we are to obtain His grace and become a real perfect saint. That is our Way to Heaven. We just need to honestly say, “Yes, Lord” and follow Him so God’s grace can get us there.
God calls ALL of His children to spend our time on earth seeking to surrender our will for His, loosing our want for sin and the world’s pleasures, so our desires can now be for God alone–seeking to better know, love and serve God for the salvation of souls. Then God can take every moment of our lives and use it to transform us into the saints we are meant to be.
We don’t need to know anything to begin on the path to sanctity (The Way of Perfection). We just need to really want to become a saint and if we honestly seek Him and are willing to change, God will give us all the knowledge and strength we need to one step at a time change. Believe!
“[Our] bodies do not lack wherewith [the ability] to ‘co-operate unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints.'”
–St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church
How to Become a Saint
When we decide we want to become a real perfect saint, we will learn how to detach perfectly from our will and unite it with God’s, so our minds will be focused perfectly on God and not all of the sin and non-sense that distracts us from Our Lord and His perfect will for us. That way God can take away our sinful will–make us a new man–by giving us a heart of love that can truly love God above all, can accept His saving forgiving grace and can atone for our life of sin.
To become a saint we will be walking by the Way of Perfection (The Way to Heaven), which is made up of three steps:
- The Way of Pergation,
- The Way of Illumination and
- The Way of Unity.
The Way of Pergation is the first step we will take on this journey, in which we will be spending our time by removing our sins that are keeping us from accepting God’s love (habitual sins and attachments). After we remove many offences and finally accept enough of God grace, we will find The Way of Peace (The Path to Life).
This Way of Peace is found at the beginning of The Way of Illumination. It’s when we grow in faith to obtain True Trust in Jesus and we no longer despair or become despondent during our crosses–no more habits of worrying or complaining about our sufferings or life challenges–no anxieties will be present anymore–because we truly trust God is going to lead us into sanctity from all He allows to happen.
Then, as we walk with Christ by The Way of Illumination, with that trust and peace in Christ we now have, we will grow in much humility (our nothingness) and learn how to surrender our will for God’s well enough that we grow in hatred for sin so greatly that we obtain true sorrow for all our offences against Our Lord. We will gain a sorrow that embraces God’s forgiving mercy, a sorrow so great that would rather suffer anything even death than offend God in the slightest sin.
From there, after more grace is obtained, then true contrition will habitually dwell in our souls; we will have a saving faith. From our love for God and desire to suffer for our sins and the sins of the world, we will continue to grow in humility and hatred for sin (love of God) as we now begin to atone for our life of sins committed against God, through love of the cross.
“In order to become a Saint one must suffer much, always seek the most perfect path, and forget oneself [surrender one’s will]”
–St. Therese de Lisieux
Then when our love becomes great enough, we will atone for our life time of offences against Our Lord. At this point, we will now be saints and able to go right to Heaven after we die, that is, if we continue in our faith until the end.
After sanctity, we enter onto the Way of Unity. This is where we strive to let go of our will perfectly and detach ourselves so wonderfully from sin and the world, as we grow in such humility that our nothingness becomes so profound that nothing of our sinful-self remains, and we no longer reject any of God’s helping mercy and can embrace the fullness of God’s grace He desires to give us. When this is done, we will perfectly love God and become perfect saints never able to fall from God’s love again. We will no longer be able to choose to sin from the fullness of God’s love constantly being renewed within us. Praise Jesus!
That is it…that is The Way to become a perfect saint. So lets learn how to do just that.
To become a saint, we must truly want to be a saint or when the going gets tough, and it will, we will quit. We must have fear of the Lord (fear of sin and its horrid consequences) to work as hard we can to stop sinning and love God. Below are the ten steps we need to take to do that.
10 steps to walk by The Way of Perfection:
- Remove Sin and Grow in Contrition: Make resolutions to amend sin–all sin…to remove the self-loving sloth within us that is keeping us from changing. Sin has bounds of horrible consequences, it offend’s God whom we should be loving, rejects His love (grace), causes blindness and endless suffering. Therefore, we must seek to grow in our sorrow for our sins and begin to remove sin, one sin at a time towards stopping all sins by receiving much grace from God especially in His sacraments;
- Seek to Live God’s Will: desire to do what God wants us to do at every moment; don’t waste a single thought pondered, word spoken or action made; seek to make literally everything conform to God’s will…so God can do everything through us to make us a saint.
- Increase Prayer: We need to seek God’s guidance, enlightenment and strength through reading the Bible, mental or vocal prayer, hearing Mass, devotions, the Blessed Mother, saints, angels, etc. Start with one prayer and increase our humble prayers aiming for God’s goal of unceasing prayer, so God’s grace can constantly flow through us, and we can grow to know God and His will; To learn more please read, “How to Pray Humbly.”
- Grow in Acts of Mercy: Do what God wills us to do to serve Him through serving others with their spiritual and physical needs with the goal of the salvation of their souls
- Gain True Trust in God and Carry Our Crosses: We must grow in faith in Jesus and seek grace to stop worrying or complaining when things go wrong. We want to trust in God and what God allows as necessary to lead us into sanctity, if we can learn, change and grow from our blessings (crosses);
- Increase in Self-Knowledge/Humility: Grow in knowledge of our sinfulness–humility–come to see the sinful reasons why we do what we do, so we can gain a great hatred of our sinful self and come to know our true need for mercy and understand God’s great tolerance and love for us.
- Seek to do all for God’s Honor and Glory and the Salvation of Souls grow in love of God and our neighbor, so everything we do can be to better know, serve and love God.
- Remove the World’s Pleasures: don’t seek anything that pulls our hearts and minds off of being constantly a fixed on God and His will. Little by little wean ourselves of all the world’s pleasures that we run to for happiness, so God alone can be our source of joy. Then we won’t reject Him for anything in the world. To learn more pleases read “How to Become Attached to God Not the World”;
- Increasing our Penances–something we do to make right our wrongs (much of the time it is the opposite of the wrong we did)…also: works of mercy, suffering/sacrificing etc. to help atone for our sins and those of the whole world;
- Choose the Cross: as we grow in love with the cross: gain a desire and love for suffering. To learn more please read, “How to Love Suffering.”–like Christ–so we can chose what we don’t like, what is difficult, what is less, what is painful (according to God’s will) in everything so Christ can to send grace for the salvation of our and other’s souls through our suffering, like Christ did for us.
This is how we can obtain Perfect Love of God as we walk on The Way of Perfection. This is the path the saints, who obtained Heaven, traveled. It’s the path we need to follow too; it is how we really follow Christ to Heaven.
“The chief means of perfection are:
- To avoid all deliberate sin, however small…
- To have an earnest desire to acquire the perfection of the saints, and to suffer all things to please Jesus Christ…
- To have a firm resolution of arriving at perfection…
- To make daily two hours’ or at least one hours’ mental prayer…
- To frequent Holy Communion several times a week, in obedience to the counsel of our director
- To pray continually…
All the saints teach the same Way…just slightly differently. Later in this article, I have broken down this 10 step path even further so we can see the individual steps more clearly…plus, we should know, many of the steps over lap or one proceed the other or they are walked on in unison, since they aren’t perfectly defined steps and are constantly growing and changing.
Yet, what we need to do isn’t very hard to do, but it is very difficult to walk on because we don’t want to change. But we can learn how.
“Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me… will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:28-29).
Follow the Saints
The saints know how to become saints. They obtained Heaven. We know they found The Way correctly. Everything we do must be in accord with the saints…no more, no less. Following someone who hasn’t walked through life by The Way of Perfection won’t help us to obtain the crown of Life or sanctity. We must be very careful to follow sound guidance.
“There are some things hard to understand [but necessary for salvation] that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction [don’t follow them]…Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error” (2 Peter 3:16-17).
If the world is doing it, we can be pretty sure, it isn’t good. The people of the world are very lost. Anything we think about, have, do or want that doesn’t help us to become a perfect self-sacrificing saint, must leave.
“Ah! my good friends, woe to him who follows the world! He is lost! If you wish to be saved you must necessarily flee this world [everything that we go to for happiness that isn’t God]…if you have any further doubts about it, just remember what all the saints did: they considered the world and its pleasures a plague [so to not desire them], from which they fled.”
–St. John Vianney
St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church, tells us, “to secure a happy death, the saints have abandoned all things; they have left their country; they have renounced the delights and the hopes [for success and pleasure] which the world held out to them, and have embraced a life of poverty and contempt. But how can [we] worldlings, living in the midst of sins, in the midst of earthly pleasures and dangerous occasions [of sin], expect a happy death [are we deceived]?… How is it possible that he who reflects on this, and believes the truths of the faith [that there are consequences to sin], does not leave all to give himself to God, who will judge us all according to our works?”
The saints clearly warn us of what is needed to obtain a saving faith and it won’t be pleasant, before grace makes it easy. But we must be willing to leave it all-sin and everything our heart finds affection with in this world, so we can desire God and His merciful saving love only.
Do we want to renounce that we seek out to bring us pleasure and choose the cross? Or do we want to continue to live for the world’s pleasures?
“You have lived on earth in…pleasure [not the cross]; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.” (James 5:5)
Truly, we must “free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with this world” as St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church teaches us.
Haven’t we figured out we are still left empty looking for our next fix (a high–like a drug) after we partake in such pleasure? Don’t we see its folly?
Are we willing abandon–our beloved football…our favorite foods, fruitless TV shows…our consolation and attention from our family and friends…our self-satisfying/pride-filling social media, wasteful shopping, indulging vacations, our longing for success and approval, our endless quests for entertainment, seeking love and care from others…
oh, are we willing to leave it all…whatever it may be for us that keeps our minds from unceasing prayer and serving God perfectly…Are we willing to seek God’s grace for the strength to leave everything we think we can’t live without…whatever it is we spend our time doing or wanting to do that isn’t to know, serve or love God…everything we desire/long for to bring us happiness, which isn’t God…will we LEAVE IT ALL to seek to find true happiness with God alone?
If not, then we simply can’t become a saint.
How much do we want to love God? How much do we want Heaven? Or have we been deceived into thinking this isn’t necessary for eternal life? If we don’t really believe, we won’t do what is necessary to be saved.
If we believe we MUST immitate the saints, then ask ourselves, “What did the saints do…really do?” Then, follow them! They have fantastic wisdom far above ourselves and found The Way. They freely chose to leave everything that prevented them living life by way of the cross.
When they heard God calling them, they decided they were going to seek God’s grace (strenght) to stop their sins, reject the world and truly follow Christ. Then, one step at a time, they learned how to do just that. They found the Path of Life (the Way of Peace), and if we want to find Jesus…really find Jesus so He can guide us to sanctity and a great life of peace, we must reject it all too.
“In heaven, the saints occupy themselves only with God; all their thoughts are for His glory; their pleasure is to love Him. Do you act in the same way? During your life on earth let God be your only happiness, the only object of your affections, the only end of all of your actions and desires.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
Leave it All to Love God
St. Francis of Assisi teaches us we must “fast and to abstain from vices [sinful habits] and sins and from superfluity [over abundance] of food and drink, and to be Catholics…We ought to love our enemies and do good to them that hate us. We ought to observe the precepts and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We ought also to deny ourselves [of our will and pleasure] and to put our bodies beneath the yoke of servitude [under the easy law of serving others] and holy obedience [to God’s will].”
St. Anslem, Doctor of the Church tells us, “Do not follow the great majority of mankind, but follow those who enter upon the narrow way, who renounce the world [give up its pleasures], who give themselves to prayer [unceasing prayer], and who never relax their efforts by day or by night [to obtain true sorrow/saving faith and grow towards perfection], that they may attain everlasting felicity [heavenly bliss].”
“You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
“All our possessions and our friends to whom we have such an attachment…disappears forever...my friends, do not let us deceive ourselves. Let us flee, or else we may run the danger of being lost. All our saints have fled and despised the world…Those who were obliged to live in it lived as if they were not in it. How many of the real great ones [saints] have left this world to live in solitude [because of the deadly attachments friend/family brings]!” as St. John Vianney warns.
We must amend our lives greatly so we can follow the saints all of the time, not just during Lent or once in a while. We can’t live The Way only during part of our life and then chose sin for the rest. We must love God enough to strive to live it perfectly at all moments. This is a total life change.
However, God doesn’t expect us to live The Way perfectly as soon as we learn of some of it; He wants us to become truly resolved to live it…as we work hard to amend our ways removing one sin, one attachment at a time, according to God’s will, towards becoming a perfect saint.
“The Lord delights in every little step you take.”
–St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
Yes Lord, I Hear You
This very moment we can decide we are going to let go of all sin and all of the things of this world we crave and learn how to love our Infinite Creator, not the created, since God is “ever knocking at the door of the heart” (God to St. Catherine of Genoa).
God wants us happy loving Him, not sin or the world’s pleasures, which keep us from Him. And if we desire to let it all go, God will teach us His blessed ways. To learn more please read “How to Reject the World and Live for Heaven.”
“The affections of which are set on the things of this world…must be burned up and purified of all created things in the fire of His love. This purgation drives away the evil spirits who has dominion over our soul, because of our attachment to those pleasures.”
–St John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
This removal of sin and everything we delight in that keeps us from knowing, serving and loving God is most necessary to obtain the first step by Way of Purgation–into a saving faith and is most certainly needed to obtain sanctity by Way of Illumination and absolutely needed to become perfect by the Way of Unity.
“I [a man Jesus describes who seeks Life] will dedicate the proper time to work and prayer and restrain my carnal appetites through fasting. Second, in order that the world may not drag me away from the love of God, I will give up all worldly things, for they are all perishable. It is safer to follow Christ in poverty. Third, in order not to be deceived by the devil who is always showing us falsehoods instead of the truth, I will submit myself to the rule and obedience of another; and I will reject all selfishness and show that I am ready to undertake whatever is commanded me by the other person.”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
If we want a life of wonderful happiness and great peace all of the time, then this is the way. If we are tired of being lonely, stressed, seeking understanding, looking for true love, frustrated, grumpy, depressed, feeling hopeless, and all worried about life’s challenges/sufferings etc., especially during great trials, then this is The Way which will change everything.
“A person who is truly virtuous does not waver in the least…whether you are blamed..mocked at, or regarded as a hypocrite…none of these things should be capable of robbing you of your peace of soul.”
–St. John Vianney
When we have much grace…nothing will cause us to stumble. Every kind of malicious word or action will only bring us pity towards those mistreating us, as we rejoice in the cross truly knowing what good it brings, living in wonderful peace.
When we grow in faith to be able to emulate much of what the saints do, our life will be filled with the most incredible joy. Even if we can’t love (stop sinning) quite as perfectly as the saints, if we can just grow in wonderful trust in God, our lives will constantly be in unshakable peace.–nothing will stress us any more…nothing will cause us fear (except sin of course). We will finally have Jesus’s peace from real trust in God…that is lived. This is what we all long for.
“Those of steadfast [loyal] mind you keep in peace—in peace because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Everything that God allows–tragedies and all–will be accepted in peaceful trust…knowing it is God’s will. We will have great understanding/belief that He will make everything good according to His plan for salvation of souls, that is, if we follow Him. We will never complain or worry again. God’s grace will take those sins away, if we want Him to.
When we follow Christ correctly, we will truly put our hands into our loving Creators’…knowing He makes all bad into good, when we trust and follow Him. We will finally have true trust in Christ and His unfathomable mercy–we will have real faith!
All of the sins that our sinful nature used to run to, everything we used to desire that wasn’t God or His will, all of the things we used to do to entertain ourselves–to find happiness–will be of no interest to us anymore. From God’s grace, our delight will be in God alone.
Our relaxation will now be prayer. It won’t be hard anymore to pray; we will love it and crave it. Our free time won’t be with the world: seeking consolations, rest or entertainment with friends or family, seeking our next great meal or a fun time out, or anything at all, it will be spent seeking ways to love God by way of the cross as we seek to do His will perfectly.
“The Holy Spirit tells us through His Saints, and Our Lord has told us with His Own Lips, that a devout life is very sweet, very happy and very loveable.”
–St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
When we obtain much grace–through removing sin–what used to be hard (living the Word), will become easy. We will look for ways to SUFFER (deny ourselves and pick up our cross) for Christ–like Christ did for us, united with Him, sending grace for the salvation of souls, and we will LOVE IT.
Our hearts will pine so greatly for God, we will long for our death to be with Him but relent that desire for whatever God wills. Our love for God will be terrific and it will drive our every action. And in response to this love, God will fill us with indescribable love in return. This incredible life isn’t for someone else, or only for a moment or two, but if we allow God’s grace to fill us, it is available for us consistently in our lives.
This is our goal!
“The world, looking on, sees that devout persons fast, watch and pray, endure injury patiently, minister to the sick and poor, restrain their temper, check and subdue their passions, deny themselves in all sensual indulgences, and do many other things which in themselves are hard and difficult. But the world sees nothing of that inward, heartfelt devotion which makes all these actions pleasant and easy.”
–St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
Are You Ready?
Do you really believe? If so, PRAISE GOD! You are one of the “few” that can see and have the grace to walk towards the Path of Life. I’m so happy for you. Become excited; this is the beginning of the most wonderful time of your life. Oh, you will work and work hard, but don’t fret. If you accept God’s grace and learn how to follow Christ correctly, you are going to grow and develop a real true burning love for God and be filled with unspeakable joy.
If you can clearly see what the saints have done to obtain sanctity and eternal life and believe you must do the same, so to one day win the Crown of Life, then you can proceed to learn how to do just that.
“I urge you not simply to admire but also to imitate this splendid example of virtue [of St. Paul], for, if we do, we can share his crown as well.”
–St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church
God will teach, strengthen and guide you to The Way, if you allow Him. He has been waiting your whole life for you to sincerely come to Him. Embrace His transforming love. His love and mercy will make you a saint. Believe!
“The Lord is waiting to be gracious to you, truly, he shall rise to show you mercy [go to Him]” (Isaiah 30:18).
There Are Two Kinds of Saints
To seek to become a saint we need to understand there are two different kinds of real saints:
- Regular Saint–someone who has had all their sins forgiven and atoned for them.
- Perfect Saint–someone who has had all their sins forgiven, atoned for them and can no longer sin again (achieved perfection) like St Therese of Lisieux has acquired.
Within each saint there are different degrees of love for God, which God rewards in Heaven for our fidelity to Him. No two saints are alike, but all saints are welcomed into Heaven just at different levels and degrees of closeness to Him.
If a person has accepted enough of God’s grace and has grown to become a regular saint, they will still sometimes choose to sin since God’s love isn’t fully resounding in their souls (since they lack perfect love). The moments they lack grace and are tempted, they might fall. But when they do, from the continuous true contrition (true love) that exists in their souls, they are instantly forgiven. From their love for God being so great, from their constant life of mortification–denial of pleasure to love God–that sin is perfectly atoned for too. To learn more please read, “How to Perfectly Love God.”
But once they unite with God even more perfectly and obtain even more of God’s grace, enough for His love to constantly and fully renew within their souls, that grace makes them unable to chose to sin again and they are full of grace–a perfect saint–united with God’s love. At this point in their faith, God will never allow them to become a slave of the evil one again because they can never reject God by choosing sin any more.
What is a Saint?
From prior knowledge and what I have just written, we have some understanding of what a saint is. But if we want to become a true saint, we need to really know well what we are aiming for. It is much easier to aim for a goal when we clearly know what it is.
In brief: a saint is simply a person who doesn’t want to sin; they want to love God. They don’t want to offend God any more and have gone to God for grace to help them amend their ways so they can live to serve Him alone. From much perseverance and hard work, they have acquired enough grace from God to atone for their sins and sanctify themselves, growing in true love of God.
Some people use the phrase “Oh, she/he’s a saint.” when they are describing someone they believe to be very holy, but most likely the seemingly holy person isn’t on the path of true sanctity, striving to become a real saint, since sadly very few chose this path.
A true saint is not just someone who pray’s a lot or does good things for others. Sure a true saint does that but a true saint, from God’s grace, does so much more. Like I said, a real saint is someone who has decided to give their entire life to God…they have detached themselves from the word and have attached themselves to God.
- No longer habitually chose to commit any sin; they hate all sin and habitually love God,
- Reject and no longer want the pleasures of the world; they have lost their affection for created things,
- Don’t worry or complain when crosses: inconveniences, problems, sickness, suffering, etc. befall them; they trust in God and love the cross,
- Have surrendered to God their will; they want nothing but to know, serve and love God how He wills, so God can do everything through them,
- Run to the cross to suffer, out of love for God, for the salvation of souls.
Saints rejoice in all that God allows knowing it is God’s will and the way to His Sacred Heart of Love. A true saint lives in wonderful peace–especially during ridicule, rejection and suffering! They understand the cross and love it not just some of the time but consistently in their life.
We need to follow the real saints–the ones who have been canonized–they know the real way.
Becoming a saint is a big goal…not that it requires anything complicated for us to do…except letting go of our will for God’s. Really, becoming a saint is rather simple like I said. Frankly, if we can surrender our will for God’s, He will enlighten and lead us to exactly what we need to do to let go of our sins and all we desire that isn’t to know, serve and love God. God makes it easy to sanctify ourselves. But to get to this point in our faith, most will have to work and work hard to get there.
“What saint has ever won his crown without first contending [struggling with difficulty] for it?”
–St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church
But to sum it up simply: to sanctify ourselves, we just need to learn what God wills of us and how to humbly relent our will in our thoughts, words and deeds and do it. In doing this, we will leave what keeps us from God and grow in true love of God which accepts His saving grace and atones for our sins.
But this is very hard for us to do since we love our will very much. Therefore, to accomplish sanctity, we can’t give 50% of our life to becoming a saint…we need to give it all. “You cannot be half a saint. You must be a whole saint or no saint at all”(St. Therese of Lisieux).
We can’t decide to be a saint during Church and then be content with afterwards running off to the pleasures of the world to bring us happiness. We must desire God alone.
“But what is My [Jesus’] will, except that you should want to love Me above all things and not desire anything but Me.”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
To do this, we can’t follow the majority, we must follow the minority or even be the only one to follow The Way. ” ” –St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church. So tragically, so few truly want to love God enough to leave the world for Him. Most just won’t soften our hearts enough to really understand and don’t change adequately, still clinging to sin all the way to the end…so sad.
But if we can hear, we must work and work hard running to God in all humility for grace after grace, staying vigilant, learning and learning from our failures and all circumstances, removing one sin, one pleasure at a time so to abandon all that keeps us from God, as we strive to fulfill His will perfectly living to love and serve our neighbor for the salvation of their souls, like Jesus did for us.
However, we might be one of the few who are so blessed to understand well the urgency of the matter at hand and want to become a saint today. But with any large goal, for most, it is achieved over time. So we shouldn’t expect ourselves to become a saint over night. It will happen one step at a time.
But we shouldn’t fret. God knows our weakness, and He knows our heart and if our heart truly wants to become a saint, He will see to it that happens. We must trust in Him. He will be patient with us; We need to be patient with ourselves, Remember, He wants us saved.
“Consider the patience of our Lord as [bringing us to] salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
If we think we have a fire (of desire) to change which is greater than reality, and we will take steps too big for us, then we will only fall and sometimes even further back from where we started. But if we take steps too small, we won’t allow God to fly us to His Sacred Side either. Then we might never make it to the Crown. We need to be careful, and be honest with ourselves and figure out what we can do and humbly be satisfied with that. God is.
“I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me [so I won’t fall]” (Psalm 131:1).
The steps we take will vary in size from one person to the next depending upon our ability to climb (from our amount grace and desire). Some will move more rapidly than others–but, if we go about this correctly, it will happen at a pace we can tolerate, and we will grow (climb).
With each step we take correctly, our ability to climb will increase since we are being strengthen by God (accepting more grace), that is, unless we take some steps poorly and fall backwards (which will most likely happen), or until we get to our stumbling block (unless we don’t have one, but most have may as I will explain later). However, if we allow God to knock down our barriers and we learn, we will begin to grow again towards true sanctity.
In time if we continue in this process, we will eventually obtain the goal. This we must believe and persevere. We must have hope in God to show us The Way even when we fall horribly as long as we truly want to learn and change and not stay in our sinful ways.
Becoming a saint is similar to that of becoming an Olympic gold winner. Until we decide we are going to go for the gold and we going to give it our all, we won’t obtain it. If we aren’t trying as hard as an Olympian, growing and changing at the pace God intends, then we aren’t sincerely pursuing Life and won’t get there.
However, we will need to start as a young child in the race. We must understand how deceived we have been and realize, we really know nothing. We must let go of our pride and allow God to guide us correctly to The Way. We won’t have much discipline at first either, nor ability to do great thing, since we are so weak in grace.
Our soil must be fertilized by God so His great seed (desire to sanctify ourselves) can grow properly. Wonderfully like with an Olympian, if we learn, work hard and change, we will grow in endurance and strength, into maturity in the faith, able to step by step live the faith. Then one day if we persevere to the end, we will obtain the goal.
“The one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
But please understand, we don’t need any special talent above anyone else to win the Crown of Life or to obtain sanctity, all we need is God’s grace and our desire (moved by God’s grace) and it will be achieved. Frankly, the less we are, the easier it will be.
“Each one [person] can become a great saint, so great is the power of God’s grace. It remains only for us not to oppose God’s action [not reject His transforming grace].
To begin lets learn about our goal.
The Easy Way
With any goal in life…there is an easy way to obtain it and a hard way, and becoming a saint isn’t any different. Does God want us all to take the easy way to Life, no? Some people He gives every advantage to obtain the goal using the easiest means possible and others He doesn’t.
God has a different plan for everyone’s life…with the same goal–salvation–but sanctity won’t be found by all of us walking on the same path. However, if we surrender everything to Him, He will provide each of us, no matter where we are in life, with everything we need to obtain the Crown of Life, no matter how He wants us to obtain it.
The way God wishes us to obtain the Crown of Life, is what is best for us.
Some heard God calling us earlier in life but ignored Him and some took our first step. But even if we missed choosing His perfect plan for us (didn’t answer His call), but we do live in one of the follow ways of life, God has created a new plan for our salvation, and He can still bring us to sanctity, if we allow Him.
Listed below are the different ways of life that we can choose in which we can obtain sanctity (ordered from easiest to hardest):
- Join a strict religious order which follows the true Way of the Cross;
- Become a religious or join a religious order that takes the vow of chastity and obedience;
- Join a lay order that provides rules which follow the Way of the Cross;
- Remain single–unmarried chased person;
- Widow–remaining single and chased;
01. Strict Religious Order: The easiest way to obtain sanctity is to join a strict religious order. It’s members and rules can provide the support, accountability and motivation someone needs to move past the initial lazy, self-serving dispositions that keep us complacent in our sinful ways and not moving forward. A religious order can help direct and keep us on the straight and narrow path towards Life when we fall so we can regain direction towards the Light again.
“[The] rule [religious order] with great strictness …was a safe way of salvation.” –St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
That is why St. Teresa of Avila became a nun. She didn’t necessarily feel a great calling from God at first, but she joined because she believed it was the safest means of procuring a happy end, since she understood that the state of her eternity was far more important than anything else.
“[After I became greatly ill] I also began to be afraid that, if I were then to die, I should go down to hell. Though I could not bend my will to be a nun, I saw that the religious state was the best and the safest. And thus, by little and little, I resolved to force myself into it.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
02. Religious Order: Not all religious or religious orders are alike. They vary greatly. But they all receive special blessings from God. Yet, some don’t even follow the true Way of the Cross and practice poverty, self-denial and sacrificing/suffering for souls…they live life pretty much like the non-religious (laity) who still don’t follow The Way either. If those religious decide they want to seek Christ by Way of the Cross, they must do it by being self-directed. But they do have the vow of obedience and chastity, which sends much grace.
These vows shouldn’t be devalued at all. Obedience is key to true humility. To be under complete obedience to another is a wonderful gift that obtains much grace. If correctly practiced, chastity is greatly beneficial and does tremendously help with obtaining sanctity too, but without living the Way of the Cross, the chased person won’t obtain sanctity either.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:32).
03. Lay Order: There are some lay orders that were established to bring the laity (non-religious people) into living the Way of the Cross–the Way of Perfection–in this greatly self-satisfying world we live in today. I’m not sure if any of the orders today are continuing to correctly practice the direction their founders established, but if we can find one that does in fact instruct and guide in the true Way of the Cross, then this means can provide much help with moving towards becoming a saint.
04. Single: Choosing to not marry and stay single, practicing chastity, while devoting ones life to God is a calling (way of life) God has for some of us. We can chose this way and even combine it with joining a lay order to help us know, serve and love God…so we can grow in greater faith, hope and love for the sanctification of our souls. This way has the magnificent blessings that come from chastity, but it lacks the the special blessing of the religious and the strict discipline that goes with some religious orders. Plus it makes one more self-directed, which is a harder way.
05. Widow: Since it is so difficult to fully give ones heart to God when we have to give part of it to our spouse, when one’s spouse dies it is best to not re-marry so someone can focus on seeking to perfectly love God and not have the distraction of pleasing one’s spouse. The attachment of wanting love from another or the sexual temptations of becoming attached to satisfying ones sexual desires with their spouse, etc. are great. A widow can more easily loose their attachments to pleasure, yearn for God alone and seek the cross for Christ for the salvation of souls.
06. Married: By far seeking sanctity while being married (heterosexual marriage) is the most difficult path and not to be chosen unless we have already chosen it or we are absolutely sure this is God’s calling for us, as God does will some to be married. But as St. Paul says in the Word it is better to remain unmarried for it is far easier (if we have some sexual self-control) to find sanctity without all of the temptations of marriage. But if we are married or really feel this is God’s calling, God can sanctify us in this way of life too.
“Now to the unmarried and to widows I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire [with lust].” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).
But if we chose any other way of life opposed to the Word, we must leave it and chose one of these ways listed if we wish to sanctify ourselves and obtain Eternal Life.
“We must either give up actually our worldly possessions as did the apostles, the disciples and the first Christians, and as religious [who truly follow Christ] do now–the is the quickest, the best and the surest means to possess Wisdom [knowledge of salvation/God]–or at least we must detach our heart from material things, and possess them as though not possessing them, (cf. Cor 7.30) [which is much harder, but possible]…We must not follow the showy fashions of the world in our dress, our furniture or our dwellings. Neither must we indulge in sumptuous meals or other worldly habits and ways of living. ‘Be not conformed to this world.’ (Rom 12:2)…we must flee as much as possible from the company of others, not only from that of worldly people, which is harmful and dangerous, but even from that of religious people when our association with them would be useless and a waste of time [isn’t for the salvation of souls].”
–St. Louis de Montfort
Lets Start from the Beginning
I’m writing this direction on how to grow in fantastic love with God, how to become a perfect saint, for someone at the beginning of one’s spiritual life–someone who doesn’t yet pray–like I was when I became determined to perfectly obey God–even though these directions can and should be used for anyone. Even if we pray, since most pray incorrectly and are missing many foundational principles in correct faith development, we need direction from the beginning.
We can start this journey towards sanctity with either some desire or a great desire to change. The beginning steps are similar weather we have either a great desire to stop sinning or not. But when someone, from God’s grace, obtains a great desire to sanctify their souls, the steps become easy and more perfectly accomplished.
Steps to become a saint:
- gain some desire to stop sinning…this is when we obtain some FEAR OF THE LORD,
- repent and start removing the sins we see,
- change our life and begin to do pious things,
- learn some of the Way,
- come to know more sins,
- start removing additional sins,
- desire to live for God’s will,
- learn how reject the world so to live for God alone,
- learn the beauty of the cross,
- gain some trust in God,
- gain a great desire to stop sinning…this is when we gain GREAT FEAR OF THE LORD,
- repent and start removing the sins we see,
- more dramatically change our life and begin to do more pious things;
- gain more profound knowledge of the Way,
- grow in greater knowledge of our sinfulness,
- greatly remove sin,
- seek only God’s will,
- loose our desire for pleasures of the world and seek the cross,
- grow in our hatred for sin,
- grow in great trust in God…this is when we find the PATH TO HEAVEN–The Way of Peace–(gain enough trust in Jesus’ mercy to guide us to Life–and to live in fantastic peace especially during suffering),
- gain a contrition so great we would rather suffer any pain than commit at lease one of our sins against Perfect Goodness for fear of suffering in Hell if we don’t amend. We gain imperfect contrition for at least one sin and are forgiven of that or those sins with imperfect contrition in the sacrament of reconciliation,
- grow in imperfect contrition for all of our sins during the sacrament of reconciliation and have our saving grace restored…even if only for a moment during the sacrament but lose it right after from still having self-love (caring more about our suffering in hell over the injury sin has against God–idolatry),
- gain a contrition so great we would rather suffer any pain than commit at lease one of our sins against Perfect Goodness because we can’t bear to offend Him whom we should love: gain perfect contrition for at least one sin and accept forgiveness outside of the sacrament of reconciliation for that sin.
- grow in contrition even more to where we would rather die than commit several of our sins because we can’t bear to offend God: accept forgiveness of many sins out side of confession,
- Increase our contrition/love for God so greatly that, from God’s grace, we habitually/constantly have a true hatred for every sin with a humble contrite heart and would do or suffer anything than sin the smallest crime again Our Beloved Creator because we can’t bear offending Him and only seek to love Him–we now have continuous perfect contrition….this is when we obtain a SAVING FAITH and justification–complete continuous forgiveness of our sins. (Way of Purgation Completed)
- grow in love with God through great suffering (penance) for the salvation souls and atone for one sin,
- increase our love during penance and atone for many sins,
- have our love grow to a continuous true love and atone for all sins…this is when we become a REGULAR SAINT. (Way of Illumination Completed)
- increase our humility and love and grow in our union with God into a more perfect love,
- have our nothingness become so great and love for God become our everything, that we reject none of His grace and accept the fullness of God’s love…this is when we become a PERFECT SAINT and can no longer sin again. (Way of Unity Completed)
These steps are a general idea of how to sanctify ourselves. Anything we have done before step 01.–before we have gained true Fear of the Lord–didn’t progress us towards Life. However God was trying to use those pious acts to open up our souls to the truth so we would want to truly change. To learn more please read, “What is Fear of the Lord.”
The order for some steps can vary and some steps can even be combined. There is no end to the growth in each step…as we will always continue to grow in our journey towards a greater perfection, but this is a good depiction of what we will need to do to accept enough of God’s grace to sanctify our souls.
Following these steps must be done…but don’t get discouraged by the long list, when we begin gaining grace, what was hard, with God’s grace, will become EASY.
“If we do [receive such great graces], then even what is very difficult will seem to us easy and light.”
–St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church
Fear of The Lord
We must know, whether we pray greatly, attend daily Mass, or do any pious (religious) acts, the first thing we need to even begin to grow correctly in our faith–to run the race to Life–to follow the path towards sanctity–is to obtain a DESIRE to achieve it. We must desire to be perfect for–“nothing unclean will enter it [Heaven]” (Revelation 21:2).
If we don’t desire to be perfect, which sins do we want to stay in? Those are the ones that will kill us.
This desire to change towards perfection–must be driven from the fear of sin and its consequences (Fear of the Lord), which is how we truly love God.
God teaches, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil [hatred of sin-because of what it does to God, our neighbor and ourselves]” (Proverbs 8:13).
Sin is horrifying and should be greatly hated/feared and spur us to love God through loving our neighbor.
“Know that the faults you commit…wound My Heart.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
“The fear of the Lord [fear of sin] is the beginning of wisdom [what we needed to start to find the Path of Life and grow towards a saving faith]” (Psalm 111:10).
There are two kinds of fear which are good and most needed:
- Filial Fear
These fears are “fear of the Lord,” which we simply must have if we wish to obtain sanctity. We absolutely can’t obtain a saving faith without them. We must, “be not wise in your own eyes, [but] fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3: ).
For most, unless we have received great grace, our desire at first will be moved by Servile Fear of the Lord.
Servile Fear of the Lord: fear of suffering from God because of our sins.
Then, after we gain much grace from the removal of sin, we will grow in faith and move to the more perfect fear driving our actions, Filial Fear of the Lord.
Filial Fear of the Lord: fear of losing or offending God whom we should be loving (wanting to perfectly love God).
Both these fears are driven by faith but filial fear is the fear we must obtain for all our sins to be saved, which sadly few acquire. Plenty think we have it, but few truly do. Therefore we always want to “labor, therefore, to increase the fire of our desire [to stop sinning so to perfectly love God]” (Jesus to St. Catherine of Siena).
If our desire to change, perform any work or pray any prayer is for any other reason than Fear of the Lord, we are not walking correctly towards Life, since all our actions need to be moved by Fear of God–wisdom. This is the beginning of finding true faith, because we can’t truly love without fear (not wanting to offend God whom we should be loving with our whole heart).
“From the fear of punishment [servile fear] he [the sinner] drives out his sin, and [then he] lovingly embraces virtue [good qualities], serving his Lord, whom he has wronged [with filial fear].”
–St. Catherine of Sienna
Use the Desire We Have
Every single saint started with a beginning desire, and we need to too. Some were given the gift of having a fantastic desire, but others only forced themselves to seek to perfectly obey God out of fear…not necessarily from a “desire to obey” but more from logic. God gave the saints the knowledge of their eternal doom which awaited them if they didn’t change and even though they didn’t “desire” to do the right thing, frankly they “wanted” to sin, but because they understood the consequence of sin, they chose good anyway and grew in faith.
With each good act they did–out of Fear of the Lord (fear of punishment from sin)–they obtain grace from God. After they grew in grace from each right choice, they finally obtained enough of grace to only want to love the Lord and chose to flee from sin out of love and finally cam to truly hated their sins.
While others were blessed to accept much grace right away after God’s call, so much so, that they had a great desire to avoid sin and do everything to love God. They burned to perfectly serve Him making obedience easy. But for most it isn’t this way.
“Purify yourself constantly from sin…Hide no sin! Leave nothing unexamined! Do not consider any sin to be light or worthy of disregard! For anything you forget, I will remind you of and judge. None of the sins you have done will come before my judgment if they are punished and expiated through your penance while you live. ”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
Grow in Our Desire
With any goal we have in life, for it to become realized, our desire must be great enough to cause us to do what is necessary to obtain it. The most sinister person will chose to do good if they “believe” they will be punished if caught. They won’t obtain any grace from God for their choice to do good because they didn’t chose to do good from fear of the Lord (an act of faith), but they can avoid worldly consequences of sin.
We must believe, at least, enough in our faith–that there are real consequences to sin–so to move ourselves to do good, based on faith, if we seek to grow into a saving faith and then sanctity.
This belief is driven by grace from understanding of the faith and from humility. We must do good at least out of fear of the Lord (servile fear), knowing God rewards the good and punishes the sin. The more true our desire becomes the greater steps we will be able to make and the faster we will progress towards our goal.
“Do what is good and you will receive approval from it…But if you do evil, be afraid…[for] God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.” (Romans 13:3-4)
Therefore, if we grow in our desire, we will avoid God’s wrath. But we want our desire to grow beyond fear of punishment since that fear is based on self-love (being mostly concerned about the consequences sin causes upon us…not God). The merit of Eternal Life is based on the virtue of love of God above all. We need filial fear of the Lord: fear of offending God whom we should be loving with all of our heart or losing Him.
But don’t only strive for filial fear if we don’t even have servile fear (fear of God’s punishment) since servile fear proceeds filial. If we think we have filial fear, but don’t have servile fear, we are deceived (unless we have grown so much in faith that we have lost our servile fear from receiving the fullness of God’s grace and can love Him perfectly–meaning, we can no longer sin). To lean more please read the article “What is Fear of the Lord?”
Of course, even if we believe we have a great desire to amend, we must be vigilant as the devil is always looking to steal our fire. No matter how much fire of love for God we have it needs to grow into an inferno of love for God and never die down. Therefore, our desire to love God–to want to perfectly obey His will–needs to always be growing.
So as God the Father told St. Catherine of Siena, “Labor therefore, to increase the fire of your desire, and let not a moment pass without crying to Me with humble voice.”
I recommend we always pray and beg God for such a greater desire, no matter how much desire we have and read inspirational saint books, like St. Alphonosus’s books and the book “How to Obtain Perfect Contrition” and its “Meditation,” as that is written to put great guilt and knowledge of our sinfulness and fear of the Lord into our souls to motivate us to take great action to change.
There are three kinds of desire I’m going to address with becoming a saint:
- great or true desire
- some desire
- weak desire
The first two desires can produce virtuous change for reasons of faith (fear of the Lord). But when we have a weak desire and don’t really believe the consequences of sin nor see ourselves in the correct light, we don’t have enough faith to cause us to do what is necessary to amend our ways. Then we won’t grow correctly towards sanctity. We will be guided by our own whimful desires and not God’s Law. Sure God can move some of our desires but most of the time our desires will be for sin (even if we don’t “see” ourselves sinning).
We must increase our faith and become firmly resolved to sin no more.
Some people will start our journey towards sanctity with just some desire and others will begin with a great desire. If we start with only some desire…we won’t have great success from a lack of God’s grace moving us, but we can at least begin the journey. Then after time, from the changes we make towards holiness, even if they are small, we will gain some more grace and grow in our desire, which can hopefully move us into obtaining a great desire.
It is just wonderful, if we can finally hear God calling out to us “Repent, and believe in the gospel [enough to truly work hard to live it]” (Mark 1:15), accept His fantastic transforming grace and burn with excitement to become a saint. From that moment, our entire life will reform and quickly. But reality is most don’t have such a great yearning to change. Our moments are filled with wanting to become a saint. Or we have excitement for a moment but lose it quickly from our hearts not completely turning to God.
Some of us hear God calling us a little, and we move a little, which is good. But we need to grow in faith, so we will burn to live for God’s will and sanctify our souls. This is how we find the Path to Life.
Live the Faith
Gaining a great or true desire to change–a true hatred for our sins–is a quite a gift from God but most of us are sadly still rejecting it. It is quite hard to acquire such a desire, since we don’t really want to change. We say with our words we want it, but our hearts still really wants the sin.
Living the true faith is hard…unless we receive much grace. How many of us REALLY want to live for God’s will alone, truly stop our serious and habitual sins, leave the pleasures and attachments of this world, and choose the cross (live to suffer) to Love God by doing all for the salvation of our neighbors soul…like the true saints have done before us?
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself [of worldly pleasure], take up his cross [carry his cross without complaint but with joy], and follow me [love/stop sinning]. For whoever wishes to save his life [keep his friends, family, the finer things in life…things that we run to for pleasure] will lose it, but whoever loses his life [gives up all he seeks for happiness] for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world [to make life just the way one wants] and forfeit his [eternal] life?” (Mark 8:34-36)
Sadly, most have been deceived into thinking life is about making ourselves as comfortable and as happy as possible with the pleasures of the world, and we run from suffering–the cross. Many even become angry or complain when things don’t go the way we want. We don’t want to bear the cross according to God’s will for souls nor relent our will for God’s.
Truly, “every satisfaction offered to the senses, which is not for God’s honour and glory, must be renounced and rejected for the love of Jesus Christ…the absence of all pleasure must be striven after” (St. John of the Cross).
Horribly, most never live our faith, but because we don’t know what it is.
However, if God has blessed us now with knowledge of at least some understanding of The Way and feel we must one day live the true faith to be saved, we might be willing to work towards this goal. And if we have this much faith, wonderfully we can start growing towards a saving faith and becoming a saint.
“If a person is at the moment of death possessed a vicious [sinful] habit, his soul will descend into hell.”–St. John Vianney
We Need Punishment
Sadly for most, from our stubborn hard hearts, to acquire a great desire to change and love God, that will help us run from the world and find The Path of Life, we have to go through much suffering (punishment) until we finally cry out to God, and relent our will for His. Then we accept His grace and learn so we can change.
But tragically, many suffer and suffer and still never hear God calling out to them to repent and change…and their suffering is in vain. While there are some who hear–just not enough to move us into a great desire, and our change will still be slow and painful. But at least there is change…so there is hope.
“It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
Wonderfully, some saints acquired such a great desire–a true desire derived from a great hatred for their sins instantly upon hearing God’s call. They obtained perfect purification (a saving faith–complete forgiveness of their sins)–whether by suffering or otherwise–but we shouldn’t desire such a blessing as it is only given by God’s design not from our asking. We should, however, seek whatever is God’s will, wanting to grow in our contrition and desire one step at a time towards perfection.
Yet, obtaining at least some desire to sanctify ourselves is needed to begin to grow so we can one day obtain a true desire to accept God’s saving mercy for Eternal Life, so that is where we must start.
What Really Moves Us
Main reasons we finally soften our hearts and are moved enough to work wholeheartedly to repent and change is because we:
- Became seriously sick and pondered if we died where we would spend eternity based on the life choices we have made.
- Had someone we love die and saw how short life is and began to contemplate if we merited Heaven from our life choices.
- Became in great need and wanted God’s help but we knew our little faith would receive little help because we understood God turned His face (we lost His help) from our willfully abandonment of the faith by choosing to live a life opposed to God’s commands.
- Suffered an incredible cross in which we chose to turn to God for help, trusted in Him and found the truth.
- Lost some of our blindness and obtained incite to some of our true misery (sinfulness) and saw how greatly sinful we really are which we needed to change if we were to one day truly love God and avoid Hell.
- Gained knowledge of the true faith and came to understand we aren’t really saved by the little faith we do have..that we need to seek a saving faith.
- Felt God’s love from His healing, help or by seeing His passion and death for us, etc. and we wanted to return His love by changing our life to truly love Him in return.
- Grew in faith and began to see the incredible understanding, love and patience God has for us as He tries to show us the Way and finally realized we weren’t really living to love God above all nor to desire Him alone.
- Saw the injury we are continuously causing God by our sinfulness and wanted to stop hurting the One we should be loving with all of our heart.
To become a true saint, we need to start with one of those reasons and begin to amend our life, and then have our fear of the Lord–fear of sin and its consequences–grow so our desire can become great and all we do is to perfectly love of God.
As we can see the first five reasons to repent and change are based upon fear of punishment and the last three are based on love of God.
Sadly, most don’t initialy take stopping our sinful ways seriously because of love for God, since we don’t have a strong enough of a relationship with God because of the very sins that we need to amend. You see, each sin pushes away God and His love, so until we amend many sins, we simply can’t have a truly loving relationship with Him. That is why we begin to amend out of fear of sin and its consequences against us (punishment) and not God.
We might feel somewhat sad about our sins because we don’t want to offend God to a certain degree, but we are far from having true contrition as our lack of amending our ways proves. Most of us need a great reason from God to move our souls out of laziness and turn to God for help so we can change our life to truly love Him (stop sinning). God moves most of our souls into wanting to change by suffering (the cross). But sadly most don’t even see God trying to awaken our souls through suffering. To Learn more please read “Will God Punish Me and Others for My Sins.”
Some people will need to suffer multiple crosses (many punishments) before we can loose our pride and strong will to really hear God calling us so to seek Him and take the risk and exert the effort to repent and change. But when we do finally hear, if we answer the call and continue to answer His call, and not fall lukewarm again and forget our calling, then we can proceed to Eternal Life.
“Thousands seek Him only when all else [in the world] has failed [to help or fill them with joy], and must be driven into the Arms which all day long are opened to welcome them with such ineffable tenderness.”
–Jesus to St. Gertrude the Great
Eyes On Jesus
If we are so blessed to be given a great desire to seek sanctity, then the steps to get there are oh, so easy to climb. It is miraculous how God is practically in control. Not that we don’t have to work or think but God’s grace is so fulfilling, we lose our desire for anything but Him so easily and quickly, and fly to His side.
Sins just fall off of us. It isn’t hard to amend them, God’s grace has made it practically effortless.
This unfathomable grace is kept and grows from striving to perfectly love/obey Him, knowing we are and know nothing and need God for everything. From our nothingness we allow God to take our hand and step by step guide us away from evil at the perfect pace for us. God will show us the first step, the next and continuously lead us safely to His Sacred Side as long as we can keep our eyes on Him.
“Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
But if we allow our eyes to sway from Him wanting anything but to be perfect or if we want any attention, approval or anything from another that most incredible grace–that most wonderful gift in the world–we will reject…and for what? Absolutely nothing!
If we do have this incredible grace and burn to leave the world and sanctify our souls, trusting that God will teach and save us–if we we found the Path to Life–then we simply can’t take our eyes off of God. If we do but don’t notice the fall or don’t know how to recover the grace lost, we can lose it all.
Now, if we don’t have this unfathomable grace causing us to burn at all moments to become a saint, then we need to spend our days trying to obtain it. We might feel God and His Mother trying to move us but if we only take baby steps and never mature, we will never make it to the end and all of their an dour efforts will be in vain. pulling at us, This is done by removing our sins and praying like this, “Lord, I love You, but I still love myself (my will) too. Please give me a heart only wants You.”
No saint made it to perfection (not able to chose sin again) without letting go of their will and seeking to perfectly love God. This is The Way.
Today, I’m Going to Change
To become a saint, like I said there are mainly two ways to start…with some desire or a great desire. Whatever desire we have, we need to start by saying, “Today, I’m going to work to become a saint.” We must mean it, with our greatest desire we have…even if we don’t know how great our desire really is just yet.
This is going to be like accomplishing a diet. We will have good days and not so good days, but we are going to stop putting it off and actually do it. With God we can. Today is the day everything is going to change. Believe!
Of course if we fail to move today or don’t do so well with changing…repent and make the same commit tomorrow to seek perfection…if we fail tomorrow make a recommit again–persevere. But don’t keep on doing the same thing over and over again–still failing to change and expect a different outcome. Do something different in our actions/resolutions and in seeking God’s grace.
“The devil well knows that by obedience the salvation of our souls depends. This is why he tries so hard to prevent it.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
Repeating the same failing effort, doing nothing to modify our behavior but yet expecting a different outcome is simply not smart. If we want a different result to our attempts to change, we need to modify our strategy until something works. Sure much of the time God wants us to be patient and learn. He will even withhold giving us grace that is due (from our humble prayers, works, etc.) allowing us to sin, so to learn, as the lesson is the greatest good in serving Him and moving towards Life. So look for the lesson.
But He doesn’t want us to sin, so if we continue to not learn and grow one step further away from the sin towards the Light, something is wrong. God has innumerable ways we can obtain His strength and there are a million ways we can do things differently too. To learn different ways to obtain God’s grace please read, “What is God’s Grace and How Can I Obtain It.”
We first want to find the Path of Life–the bridge to Heaven–Jesus. This path is obscure and few even get to the path never mind walk on it with Christ towards Heaven.
“The path leading to Heaven is so narrow and so rough, so overgrown, so dark and difficult to discern, that there are many who never find it their whole life long. And those who do find it are constantly exposed to the danger of deviating from it, of mistaking their way, and unwittingly wandering away from it, because it is so irregular and overgrown.”
–St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church
But this needs to be our first long term goal, with the final goal of perfection.
The reason we can’t find the path to Heaven is that we have allowed so much love of sin and desire for worldly pleasures to block our view of God (The Path), who wants to hold our hands and guide us, in perfect trusting peace, up to Heaven. But so very sadly, most don’t allow Him or fall off the path from not staying vigilant in our efforts.
Wonderfully with God’s grace, we can look carefully into ourselves to gain self-knowledge–knowledge of our sinfulness–modify our life and find this Path.
God the Father told St. Catherine of Siena just how we do this, “On the first step [towards the Bridge to Heaven], then lifting her [our] feet from the affections of the earth [removing all desire for created things/pleasures], the soul strips herself of vice [everything that keeps her from God]; on the second she fills herself with love [from gaining a hatred for sin and seeing God’s love; then wanting Him] and virtue [gaining Christ like qualities]; and on the third [from her now great trust] she tastes peace [doesn’t worry about anything God allows to happen but truly trusts in Him to bring her to a saving faith through all that He allows to happen.].”
After we remove our desire for the world, we will finally wonderfully trust in all that God allows as guiding us into gaining a true hatred for sin so we can learn, grow and obtain a saving faith…then sanctity and then perfection will follow as God wills.
“The aim of all my advice to you in this book [“The Way of Perfection”] is that we should surrender ourselves wholly to the Creator, place our will in His hands and detach ourselves from the creatures.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
To begin to change to obtain this goal, we need to first take an inventory of our life…looking at what we are doing right and most importantly what we are doing wrong because we are going to have to purge all of the wrong things we do from our life–and follow the Purgative Way, which is the Way we must travel if we are to walk in the Way of Perfection. Then we are to increase the right things we do–what is best for us today at our current stage in the faith–until we are perfect.
What is Opposed to God
Before we seek to increase what is right, lets look at what opposes the object of our love–God–what we need to change or improve so we can begin to grow.
“[When] a man hates whatever is opposed to the object of his love, is the effect of love.”
–St. Aquinas, Doctor of the Church
We prove our true love for God when we hate what keeps us from loving Him.
What do we see that we do or don’t do which keeps us from perfectly loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength?
Make three lists…one of our obvious sins and one of the non-sinful things we do that isn’t to know, serve or love God (our attachments) and one of the things we should do to truly follow Christ but don’t.
|Sins||Things I do that don’t love God||Things I don’t do that I should to love God|
|impatient||watch football||pray in the morning|
|lazy not doing my responsibilities well||buying stuff I don’t need||go to daily Mass|
|impatient||watch football||pray in the morning|
|lazy not doing my responsibilities well||buying stuff I don’t need||go to daily Mass|
We all know sin keeps us from God. We know we love God when we serve Him and do things for His honor and glory. But do we know we love and serve ourselves when we do things for our self pleasure? We need to remove all we do for self enjoyment and do all for the love of God through loving our neighbor.
Sure we need to always be removing sin, but to become a saint or to even find the Path of Life, we must first reject all created things (with our whole heart not want anything of the world but God) so one day we can truly hate all sin and desire God alone. This isn’t the end (maturity) of faith, but just the beginning. We must surrender our longing for our next great meal, getting our nails done,
If we could write down all of our sins and all of the things we do that don’t love God (our less obvious sins), and rid them from our lives, and replace them with everything we should be doing, we would perfectly love Our Creator.
Our goal is to come to know more and more sins and desires we have that don’t love God so one day we can remove everything that keeps us from the object of our desire–God. This is how we can become a saint.
To obtain the goal of becoming “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (at least as well as us mere humans can obtain), we need to seek to do this by improving three areas of our life as God has commanded.
In order to one day truly love God, we must improve in the following areas:
- Obedience–to one day perfectly obey God/stop sinning (Hebrews 5:9)
- Prayer–to one day pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Works–to one day serve God with all our hearts (1 Samuel 12:24)
When we do this correctly, we will be living God’s will and loving Him perfectly. Lets learn how to change our lives so we can love God in every thought, word and deed.
When our minds are correctly seeking perfection, we will always seek God’s will by:
- Starting our day with prayer and trying to stay in prayer throughout our day so God is in control;
- Sticking to our specific times of day that we need to pray;
- Trying with all of our ability to not sin;
- Avoiding everything that leads us into sin;
- Working specifically on removing one habitual sin daily, until it is gone aiming towards perfection;
- Removing one by one everything we do that doesn’t love God;
- Constantly examining our conscience (being aware of our actions), repenting when wrong is noticed asking God to teach us how to not commit that sin again;
- Always taking the time daily to thoroughly examine our thoughts, words and deeds to see where we failed to love how Jesus loves and develop real plans on how to not commit any sinful act again;
- Stopping before we do anything and consulting God praying, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
- Never putting off what we should do–procrastinate–and do what we like first, but do all according to God’s priorities;
- Loving our difficult tasks, even choosing the hard way (when appropriate), as a beautiful cross for the salvation of souls;
- Focusing our minds on doing every task the best we can for the love of God wanting no consolations from man;
- Running from the pleasures of the world, looking for a way we can sacrifice in everything we do. Seeking to follow Christ and reject the pleasure and choosing the cross so to suffer and sacrifice to console God for all of the atrocities committed against Him and send grace for the salvation of souls;
- Relenting our will, when something bad or against our will occurs–knowing it isn’t truly good (God’s plan) and turn to God with a trusting heart saying, “Ok, Lord, Thy will be done…teach me Your blessed ways.” as we offer up our suffering in union with God in atonement for our sins and the sin of the world, learning, changing and growing towards becoming the image of Christ.
These things done perfectly make us a perfect saint. However, we can’t do them perfectly at first, like I said, we must start from the beginning.
Now we have a basic list of our sins–at least what we can see for now–this will be our first guide…what we need to work on
Obedience: Prayer and obedience are so strongly linked it can be hard to see which one comes first in the progression towards sanctity. But once God gives us a real desire to stop sinning–the pursuit to perfectly obey begins. This pursuit is assisted by prayer. Without prayer and obedience working together growth in true obedience can’t be achieved.
I’m not going to speak too much about specifically how to stop our sins because I go into depth about this in the article “How to Stop Sinning” but constantly striving to not sin is most necessary. We must transform our minds into seeing we desire so greatly to stop every mortal and venial sin that we accept God’s unfathomable grace and sin no more.
“The first stone of this foundation [towards correct faith development] must be a good conscience [free from serious sin] and that you must make every effort to free yoursleves from even venial sins and follow the greatest possible perfection.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
what God wants us to do at any moment since true obedience is not just removing the easily noticed sins like impatience, it is seeking we do everything according to God’s will—His priorities.
However, obedience to God is much more than just stopping the wrong we are doing as most people understand.
Actually obedience to God is BECOMING LIKE CHRIST. “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). We need to learn how to imitate the One we are supposed to be following to Heaven. We are to remove the bad and increase the good until we follow Christ so well, we become perfect like Christ.
From the beginning of time God has told us to, “keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him” (Deuteronomy 8:6).
Today, it is easy to learn what God’s ways are because Jesus gave us His example.
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:15).
Therefore, to become like Christ, we must learn how to “love one another. As I [Jesus] have loved you, so you also should love one another”
How did Christ love us? He loved us by:
- leaving everything of pleasure to become a suffering servant, obedient to the Father, to teach, strengthen and guide us to Heaven so if we believe in Him enough to follow Him, we can embrace His sanctifying (saving) grace He died to give us.
“Wicked before God, [are those] whose affections are set on the things of this world.”
–St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
To follow Christ and become like Him, our hearts must be drawn to Him and to do this of course we need to stop the wrong things we do and chose to do the things Christ would do. But we can’t do that very well if we don’t fully understand what is right or wrong…what God wills us to do and what He doesn’t. Therefore, to obey Christ and follow Him we first must learn the Way.
Learning the true Way is something that comes with time, as we soften our hard hearts and allow God’s grace to enlightens us. We can go to school and study the Bible and the lives of the saints and sadly, if we have much pride, we still might not know The Way nor how to seek it in our life, especially if we were being taught incorrectly. This softening of our hearts–that enlightens us to the True Way–comes from correct humble prayer and repentance.
So, even if we don’t truly understand The Way, if we want to become a saint, the very first step with seeking to perfectly obey is to look into our life and see what sins God has enlightened us to. Then we are to go to God in confession and repent of them (tell God we are sorry) and work to stop committing them.
“Contrition and confession are the first way of conversion to God.”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
We don’t need to have great awareness of our sinfulness to begin to stop sinning, if we just seek to stop what we can see, God will give us much grace to help us see more and more sins with each sin we remove. After we confess the sins we can see and come up with a plan on how to not commit them again as our first confession towards the goal of becoming a perfect saint…then after we learn how to examine our conscience better God will reveal more that sins we must work towards amending. To learn how to do this please read “How Can I Make a Good Confession.”
But if we don’t sincerely work to amend the sins we can see, we will have meet our stumbling block and won’t grow in much enlightenment of our other sins we love (habitually desire)…and we will wind up only confessing the same sins over and over again, not changing, from lacking much grace, because of our lack of true contrition.
It is just horrible when we
Prayer: Like I said, prayer and changing towards perfectly obeying God work together. We communicate with God through prayer. We talk and listen. This is how we come to know Him and His Way. Prayer is the powerhouse of the saint. If we want the knowledge and strength to do all that is necessary to become a true self-sacrificing peacefilled saint then we need to become a person of great prayer.
Some people, who want to become a saint, make the mistake of first starting the journey with performing a great fast or doing some great sacrifice to help them towards sanctity since they see saints doing those things. But that isn’t the Way, and it won’t bring true fruits of righteousness–we won’t grow in virtue (qualities of goodness).
The saints didn’t start with great fasts or sacrifices; we shouldn’t either. Please don’t do that. Start small and simple…like a little child who doesn’t know the Way…because we don’t. Be humble, know where we really are in our faith. Lets learn and grow in grace so God can one day do the great fasts and sacrifices through us for the salvation of souls.
The first thing we must do, to grow towards sanctity, outside of working to amend our sins, is gain the correct PRAYER life. That will help everything especially with contrition and confession.
But we must know, if we pray any prayer from the smallest prayer to endless prayers, if we pray with our hearts full of much pride, those prayers will have little if any benefit. We can think God is answering our prayers and sending grace (help) but that will only be our wishful thinking. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Please don’t be deceived. We need humility…even a moment of humility during prayer can make all of the difference. We must learn how to at least pray humbly, therefore please read, “How to Pray Humbly” to learn more.
Prayer is a way we perform our ACTS of love for God. We do this when we Adore God through our prayers, tell God how Contrite–sorrowful–we are for our sins, Thank God for everything–the good and especially the bad (the cross), and run to God for help through Supplication–begging Him for Grace–to learn and become strengthened so we and others can sin no more.
Therefore, when we pray, we want to include all of these ACTS to properly love God. Some make a mistake and only pray asking God for help, but God deserves so much more.
In order to one day pray unceasingly, we will need to include dedicated, casual and united prayer into our day.
Dedicated Prayer: stopping what we are doing to pray at specific scheduled times.
- The Holy Mass (the greatest prayer–all of our ACTS are performed in that one prayer)
- Reading the Word (schedule a special time to hear God speaking to us)
- Office of Readings (scheduled ancient Biblical Readings)
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (scheduled time visit with God’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist)
- Pray the Rosary at a specific time
- 3:00pm Holy Hour of Great Mercy
- Pray the Angelus at its specified times
- Pray the Stations of the Cross (at a certain time)
- Meditate or Contemplate (scheduled mental prayer)
- Scheduled Prayer (devotions, song or any prayer)
Casual Prayer: praying when possible throughout our day.
- Praying any of the above prayers outside of a specific schedule (when there is free time)
- Montra (repeating a word or phrase to stay in God’s presence)
- Talking/listening to God seeking His will (not the same as thinking of God…which isn’t prayer)
Union prayer: praying in our desires and actions making them to love God
If we learn how to do this well, we will be praying unceasingly–which is the goal.
Dedicated Prayer: To begin to develop a correct prayer life, we first need make sure we have “dedicated” prayer time in our day. If we pray only when it is convenient, we don’t put God or prayer first.
Dedicated prayer is vital to our spiritual growth. It will help us grow in discipline and our schedule will be what we run to when our heart doesn’t yet burn to pray (when we aren’t yet driven by faith)–so when life gets busy or our desire isn’t to pray–from discipline–we will still pray, as is necessary to grow in faith.
Without dedicated (scheduled) prayer time, we will be undisciplined like a leaf blowing in the wind that goes about and does whatever the wind determines us to do and if the wind doesn’t blow us towards the Way, our desires won’t be to pray, then we won’t. When the wind stops all together, we will fall and perhaps into mucky water and drown.
We must stand fast during the storm and have discipline so when the devil tempts us with something other than prayer and our hearts are being pulled in a different way, we will still make sure we always keep our prayer time. Unless it is absolutely impossible and truly not the greatest good because obedience or charity tells us otherwise, our prayer times must be kept–but even if we must differ to a greater good, we are to always make up our prayers later (unless we must pray in another way)…because a missed prayer is missed grace. We certainly don’t want to digress in our spiritual life..one missed prayer can do much harm and lead us closer to a lukewarm life. We need it all to grow and stay on our current step…or we can easily slip from our steps and fall.
Our prayer life will progress…from just having some dedicated prayer into having hours of dedicated prayer within our day. With time–from accepting God’s grace–we increase our prayers with one prayer at a time. Then our prayer time won’t be a burden or difficult anymore, but it will become a craving and a love. But at first, for most, it is hard to pray…but don’t worry, God will make it easy…if we persist.
Everyone’s First prayer
The Mass is the greatest form of prayer. Fantastic grace is sent during the celebration. We, who make up the Body of Christ–the people, are supposed to be uniting in prayer to God, praying every word we and the priest say during the Mass. Learning the beauty of the Mass–this marvel of God’s love which He gave us at the Last Supper–will improve our understanding of this great gift and give us a greater desire to pray. I explain the Mass in the book “Out of Darkness and into the Light.”
Even if we only pray during the Mass, learning how to pray well takes time. At first it might seem like we are just being a parrot and repeating words after another, but if we want to change, our words can take up real meaning and then our entire body will feel the difference when we truly “pray” to God…it won’t be just saying words any more, it will really be uniting our minds, hearts and desires with God and hearing Him in return…as I explain in the same above book as well.
However, too begin praying, we first need to start with attending Mass. God commands us to go to church on Sunday (cf. Exodus 20:8-11). If we don’t go to Mass on Sunday, and if we want to become a saint, obviously we need to go. If we work on Sunday, we need to make some life changes to see we do this (the Church offers a Saturday Mass that is considered the same as Sunday-a vigil).
If we like to sleep in, we need to surrender our sleep to work towards our goal of Eternal Life and at least attend Sunday Mass as a first step if we don’t all ready attend. If we love sleep more than obeying God, we will choose eternal torment for what?…rest? There is NO REST in Hell…only an eternity of tormented exhaustion. Our life of being a sloth must end.
The Catholic Church–the only church Christ founded–is so wonderful, not only does it offer Sunday Mass with the traditions passed down from the apostles of Christ, it also has God’s actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity being transubstantiated (made from bread and wine into Christ Himself) for us to eat and Live. But, not only that, it also offers this same miracle on weekdays too so to fulfill the request of the “Lord’s Prayer” –give us this day our daily bread. Yes, the Church offers a daily Mass. It is half as long as Sunday Mass (doesn’t have the music) but it still offers incredible grace, for those who are truly seeking to become a saint.
If there is anyway we can attend daily Mass, every day or more than once a week, even if we haven’t been attending Sunday Mass, we should start right away or very soon after we begin attending Sunday Mass. We need to change our life to attend daily Mass, as God give us His Church and many wonderful sacraments to help save our souls…we need to utilize His assistance. We want to make this happen.
There is so much strength for just attending the Mass alone and even more when we receive Holy Communion. Of course there are requirements to receive Holy Communion worthily–like attending the sacrament of reconciliation–please learn what they are first in the article “What sins can I commit and still receive Holy Communion?”
But watch out for the devil trying to give us excuses as to why we can’t attend. If there is a will, much of the time there is a way. We need God’s grace. Lets find a way.
For example: if we are a mom, wake up our kids early. Take them to Mass with before school, if it is available…our children will adjust. If their school was going to start earlier, we would make that happen, so change our day to make Mass happen. What is more important, Mass or sleep (put them to bed earlier). No excuses, we can do this, if we want. If we are home schooling, there is really no excuse…except laziness and wrong priorities. We must seek God for strength to stop being lazy and get our priorities in proper order. Eternity is everything.
But we must know, if we have a weak desire to become a saint–not enough desire to move us to change–we shouldn’t receive Holy Communion unworthily into a soul that doesn’t even have enough will to work towards sinning no more as is also explained in the article “What sins can I commit and still receive Holy Communion?”
On top of attending Mass, there are other prayers we need to pray…starting with the smallest prayer of just 30 second prayer and working up to about 4 hours of dedicated or casual prayer in our day (that is the goal). This will vary from one person to another depending upon the works God has us doing. But we can make 4 hours our general goal.
Don’t make the mistake and expect to obtain this goal quickly or we will fall greatly unless we are in a religious order and are around others we are accountable too as they can motivate us to pray. However, if we are self-motivated this will take time especially if we lack much grace and discipline.
But don’t ever convince ourselves we can’t do this either…even a person with the busiest schedule, who wears a billion hats all day, doing many jobs, can. We will be amazed to see just how many minutes that grow into hours in which we waste everyday even when we think we are being very productive. Just wait…I will show us. We will be shocked by all the time that is lost, which we can regain.
Please don’t doubt, with God all things are possible; we can become a person of great prayer. And when we live this life of prayer, we will become more productive than ever…as God and His perfect will (the perfect order which we need to be most productive) will be guiding us. So if we think we are productive now…just wait to see what God can do when we live for His will through prayer. Wow!
So please don’t fall into the trap and say we are too busy to pray, as the devil has convinced many of us of this lie. Truly, if we went to the doctor and we were told in order to live we needed to spend 30 mins. a day using a breathing apparatus to give us medicine into our lungs or they would collapse and we would die, do we think we would find 30mins in our day to give us the medicine we needed? Of course! Because if we really believe the doctor, we will do what is necessary to live.
The same is with prayer, if we really believe we need to pray unceasingly (obey God’s Word), for God’s constant strength (grace) to obtain Eternal Life, we will do what is necessary to see we accomplish that goal. How much we are willing and able to pray today, will depend upon how much we truly believe we need too (our desire) and from God’s grace (our strength). But we will always start small.
I’m not going to suggest if we don’t pray, we even try to pray for 30mins straight, as I know our desire, from a lack of grace, is still too weak for most for such a large goal. Prayer is hard for many. If we don’t pray, start with Mass and then read the Word (as a prayer).
The Word: Yes, reading the Word is a form of prayer too. That is God speaking directly to us. We will hear God only if we want to. So when we read God’s Word, read wanting to know what God is telling us…what is the next step–what we need to amend in our life to truly follow Him. That is what God’s Word is, our directions to His Sacred Side.
I don’t suggest we read the Bible like a “book.” We want to make reading God’s Word a prayer so don’t read much in one sitting. Listen much, read little. I also, don’t suggest we start with reading the Old Testament but with the New Testament and to save “Revelations” for the end as that is the most veiled (hard to read and understand) part of the Word.
I suggest we close our eyes, ask God to guide us to what He wants to teach us and randomly pick something to read. Just read a small paragraph and then stop or we can read the Bible Readings which are part of today’s Mass readings. But those can be a bit too much to read and meditate upon…so please pick just one passage to start.
Then after we read, look into our life to see what we need to do to live it fully (perfectly) with every though, word and deed. When we see our failure to perfectly live that Word at all moments with every person, no matter what is happening or how we are being treated, repent to God directly. Then write that sinful behavior down in a notebook, which we will be keeping of our sinfulness.
This log of our sins is a most valuable blessing especially if we don’t have a fantastic memory. The benefit of writing down our sins is great. When we write our sins it helps us to remember what we need to amend and what to confess. Please keep a book with us always. Then if we catch ourselves sinning or recognize a sin, we can write down our sin (especially if we are prone to forget) and later, when we have the time, we can go back and read our sins and come up with a real resolution on what we need to do to amend them. This will help us begin to see our sinfulness and know how to change. We can learn more in the article “How to Confess Well.”
When people are trying to be kind to us, many people tell us that they are thinking of us? That’s a nice thought but what good does thinking of us really do for us. Does God send His grace to us or anyone every time we think of someone? No. Our thoughts of people don’t empower God’s mercy.
Many people are worried about someone and are constantly thinking about them, but they never actually pray a single prayer to God for that person. Tragic! Does one thought or worry do any good? No! We need to trust in God and call upon God’s power to help them, which comes from prayer.
It is just the same with “thinking of God.” I have had people tell me they think of God all of the time. That’s nice too, but what good does that really do? Sure it might get us to think before we do something wrong–like a child could have if they think of their parent and their punishments they would have if they did wrong or maybe even empower us to not want to hurt the one we love by sin (like any person of faith or not would for the one they love). Plus, it might even prompt us to pray. But thinking of God isn’t praying to God. Yet, many people interpret that as prayer, and think they are praying but it isn’t.
We need to be “praying” to God to come to know, serve and love Him well. How are we going to know anyone, if we don’t talk with them. And we talk to God when we pray. All of the nice thoughts and intentions don’t change the fact that many of us aren’t really praying. So many have never prayed a single prayer, and are without the true help God wants to give us.
Of course some thoughts are true meditations on God and His mysteries which are prayers (seeking to know and love God). But few know how to meditate. We need to learn how to really pray. We need to be careful and not just think of God or rattle off some written prayer, or say some words/thoughts to God or sing a religious song and think we are praying, because much of the time we aren’t. We need to learn how to mean every word/thought and give it to God. We need to learn how to pray.
Prayer in our Desires
When God first consumes us with His grace and gives us such an incredible desire to stop sinning, we will think we want nothing but God and His will, every moment we will be looking out to avoid sins and for what is God’s will, but sadly, we will still desire sin.
Our heart will be so inflamed with desire to change and from God’s enlightening grace, we will now see many sins we still desire. We will be horribly humbled. We will come to see God’s great love…what patience and tolerance He has for us greatly sinful creatures, who claim we love Him but still love sin.
Our heart will be pulled…we will now be a slave of God and have a desire far above any desire we have ever had in our life to stop sinning and live for Him–but we will still live in sin.
During this next step, God will teach us how to relent our desire for sin, one sin at a time, so we can one day desire God alone.
“You think it very hard to lead a life of such restraint [seeking perfectly God’s will] unless you keep your eye of faith always open. Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be resolute, and bear and suffer as our blessed forerunners did. Which of them gained heaven without a struggle?”
–St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
There are a jillion books out there to help us find happiness. People spend our lives looking for happiness and of course only God can satisfy all of our longings. Sure we need to understand this to even begin to leave the world and grow in faith. To learn more please read, “How to Reject the Word and Live for God alone.” But if we only change because we are looking for happiness, we will never become a saint. That is still a desire only for those in the beginning of one’s faith. We must grow.
We have become so indoctrinated with the lie, we don’t know the truth from a lie anymore. Life isn’t about finding happiness with God or anything else…it is about PLEASING GOD–making God happy. Sure God does fill us with unspeakable happiness when we give our lives to Him and that is an initial motivator for us to turn to Him, but if we continue to seek God to make us happy and don’t leave that mind set, we won’t find sanctity or Eternal Life.
People spend our lives looking into why we aren’t happy so to find a solution and sure there are real reasons why we are so unhappy and fail to grow, and we need to know what they are so we can change as a first step.
But to grow towards a saving faith, once we figure out the world (money, things, pleasure, success, friends, relaxation, praise, etc.) isn’t going to make us truly happy…that seeking only our will (either with sin, or by doing what comes easy or what is without suffering) isn’t The Way either, and we learn God’s will is the only Way to Christ’s Sacred Side, then we need to stop trying to find happiness with God and start trying to make God happy.
Until we surrender all of our wants and grow into a person that only wants God’s will–so to please Him–we will never grow to sanctity and only seek God for our benefit not to truly love Him. We will still love ourselves over God.
If we want to become sanctified, we need to stop everything we do that is for our own personal happiness. Sure everyone wants to be happy and that is why most people join the faith, as we are hoping our faith brings us happiness today and for eternity. And it will. But after a person figures out why we aren’t happy, and wants to grow towards true sanctity–perfection–we need to spend our day trying to figure out how we can Love God perfectly so to not offend Him.
A saint does nothing for their own personal happiness.
What is God’s Will
God will us to obey Him. But most are very confused as to what that is. How can we follow Christ to Heaven, if we don’t even know what true obedience is? To learn more please read “What is God’s will.” However simply put, we just need to look into our life and see what we are doing that a saint or Jesus wouldn’t do. Then change.
The saints and Christ chose to live life by Way of the Cross. Which means they intentionally denied themselves of the things they loved to carry crosses which sends grace (helps others) for the salvation of souls. This is what we must do.
Guidance From Others
Having someone guide us, having someone who we can be accountable and obedient towards, is a wonderful gift from God and can greatly assist in easing our progression towards sanctity. Finding the path of Life while being completely self-directed is horribly challenging and not something we intentionally want to chose.
If we are already in the hard way of life seeking sanctity, we might really want the help. However, especially today, this gift of having a Holy Spirit enlightened spiritual director is only for very few. We must relent to God’s will.
So few know the true Way and have learned how to sanctity ourselves through our own life experiences. How can someone guide us on how to climb in the faith from infancy in the faith into a mature saving faith if the person who is guiding us hasn’t learned how to climb themselves? They wouldn’t make a very good guide.
If we seek spiritual direction from another, who we intend to perfectly obey (as we should if they are going to be our personal spiritual director), it needs to be from someone who can direct us correctly because they have succeeded in growing and changing and are continuing to grow and change towards the goal of perfection. Because even when someone means well, they simply won’t have the grace nor experience to guide us correctly if they haven’t experienced God’s transforming love changing them towards becoming saints. Some wrong direction can be devastating and greatly harm our progress towards the Light. But even if that occurs God can make anything bad into good as there is a wonderful lesson and growth in all that is allowed.
Where to Live
The saints left all to follow Christ. We need to ask ourselves if leaving all for us includes moving somewhere different. If we are single we can choose to join a religious order and leave our possessions, bad relations and lack of help behind. But if we are married, we still need to look carefully to see if where we are living is going to help promote the salvation of our families’ souls. That is why we have a family, to help each other obtain sanctity.
Many of us live in areas that are so worldly and darkened to The Way that even the faithful don’t know they are following the wrong path. The Church offers little help. Confession is hardly held (just once a week) and if we work or have other obligations during that time it makes it virtually impossible to frequent confession even just once a week. If the priest isn’t supportive making an appointment to attend confession isn’t possible either.
Plus, there may be no spiritual guidance to The True Way, and as a result our progress towards salvation is even harder. This lack of support, if we stay against God’s will, very well can mean our doom. We need to take this seriously as the harder the path we take to obtain sanctity…the harder it will be to get there. And the road with no support is diffidently a hard path. But if it is God’s will, then He will provide.
However, for some, our unwillingness to change is the problem, since change is hard. Some of us simply aren’t strong enough with personal discipline to obtain enough grace without the magnificent blessing that come from frequenting the sacraments, nor self-motivated enough to run the race with no motivation/guidance. If that is the case then living in an area that is suffering from much darkness, against God’s will, could mean eternal ruin.
I’m not necessarily saying that the grass is greener somewhere else, nor that God will’s us to move, but we need to pray and seriously look to see if where we are living is what is best for obtaining Eternal Life. Some Churches provide confession everyday before daily Mass, during some evenings and on the weekends. Plus, not all preaching is the same, some are diffidently more in line with encouraging the people through wonderful fear of the Lord to the true Way, giving us a real reason to change, than others.
If eternity is everything, we need to put where we live into proper perspective and not make our job (we can get another), friends or any attachment more important than doing what is necessary to sanctify ourselves. We need to seek what is God’s will.
If we find ourselves filled with self-pity that there is nobody to help save our souls. If after we looked for someone who can understand and has sacrificial charity to help, and found no one, and we are now angered at the Church for not preaching the truth nor providing the sacraments conveniently for the people, nor guidance to Life, something is wrong. And if this is the reason we want to move and find somewhere else to live, then I promise you, we aren’t being guided by the correct light.
As I said before, we must be very careful to discern our desires correctly and make sure they are of LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOR as “no one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24) and to preseve the unity of the Church–not love of ourselves–to see if we are being guided by God or the very cunning evil one.
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
We are all one body in Christ, and we are to care for each other (do what is best for each others’ salvation). If one part of the body is sick, we go to the doctor for healing (pray for him). Sure the entire body will suffer if one is ill, but we are to tolerate that illness (carry our cross) and pray for each other’s recovery however long the Lord wills. This is imitating Christ. The body of Christ is to stay united for better or worse helping each other over come their illness.
But the devil doesn’t want us to love, understand or patiently tolerate the sins of others–“bearing with one another through love” (Ephesians 4:2)— as we suffer from their sins. Yes, we will suffer from the misguidance and neglect of others, but that is God’s will.
From our pride, the devil will take our anger or self-pity driven motives, and make what we want to do sound like it is good–truth and justice. He will intermingle bad in with good trying to make everything we desire appear to be upstanding when it is quite rooted in sin. We must be alert. The devil won’t need to make us into athiests to own us; all he needs to do is get us to act outside of true love and we serve him…under the facade, much of the time, of us being righteous. Sure we need to save our souls, but that is done by patiently carrying our crosses for love of our neighbor.
A lot of people want to say anger is justifiable as we become enraged at the wrongs of another, but I tell you once God’s grace greatly enters into us and true forgiveness fills us, we simply won’t have anger over the horrible atrocities of others anymore. We will be filled with such sadness and pity for them, there won’t be a breath of anger…not the smallest thought.
I’m not talking about, if, lets say, we are a parent, and we, who are in charge of raising our children to obey, intentionally act angry (a controlled disciplinary anger) at the wrong choices our children make so to put fear into them so they will change.
I’m speaking about we–who great sinners ourselves–should never become angered at anyone, no matter what sin they have committed. We should understand their great lack of grace and inability to do good and beg God to have mercy upon them (help them). If we are called to seek true justice, as earthly consequences much of the time are very good and needed for conversion, it is only to be done with a heart that seeks the salvation of another’s soul.
If God does call us to the terribly hard task of helping someone see the error of their ways in our words, it should only be done in the most private of means so to not slander or humiliate another with a heart dripping of love for them. And if we are to say a word (oral or written) and our heart isn’t full of love, truly wanting to convert, and we are brewing over our injuries (lack true forgiveness), we will speak from sin perhaps in a degrading or mocking tone not from a heart that truly wants to enlighten for the salvation of their soul. Our pride will ruin it all. Therefore, we must be silent.
If someone’s crime does become public, we should encourage others to understand their lack of grace and pray for the sinner’s soul looking into our own failure to love (what more we could have done so the body could have received more grace) so we can change and become a better servant to them. We are to never spread the sins of others…that isn’t news we need to know; that is slander and if we do we’re a gossip.
Unless we are talking about how we can help someone or the Church, we should be silent. But beware if we do speak of the sin of another, because we feel it is necessary, that is when the devil mostly traps us from our pride. Also if we do speak, it should never be done in an angry or negative tone…just a tone of love and pity…not approving of the sin but understanding the horrible state someone lives in when we lack so much grace. If we don’t have a heart of true love for our neighbor–especially the one’s who appear the most sinful amoung us–we must be silent until God gives us one.
“Let us instantly renounce in affection the goods of this earth, before death strips us of them by force…happy they who at death are already dead to all attachments to this world.”–St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church
“Ask those who love Him with a true love, and they will tell you that in the sorrows of their live their sweetest and truest consolation is to converse lovingly with God” –St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church
“Penance, considered in itself, has the power to bring all defects back to perfection, and even to advance man to a higher state” St. Thomas Aquanis