Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, our Catholic schools across the Diocese of Lansing began a new academic year. It’s a time of great excitement and anticipation for our students, and their families, as everyone returns to friendly faces, familiar routines, and the communities each one of our schools provide.
It’s also a time of anticipation and reflection regarding who these young people are becoming. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one of the most common questions we pose to our young people! At first their answers often sound a lot alike. They want to be firemen, policemen, doctors, teachers or, even, a priest or a nun. Some children very simply declare, “I want to be a mom or a dad”. Each of these roles represent people our children admire, aspire to be and, thus, inspire the choices they make in their lives.
In the 5th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord teaches us what our answer as Christians should be to the question, “What do you want to be?” Jesus teaches very plainly: “you must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
What a high bar to set! How can any of us hope to attain to such a standard of life? We have to be like God? And yet, the Church has continued to teach this throughout her history. The Second Vatican Council taught that, while holiness is a gift given to us in baptism, the sons and daughters of God “must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received.” (Lumen Gentium, 40) Holiness is the standard – not just for priests or nuns – each and every Christian must strive for holiness.
Thanks be to God, he has provided us with countless examples of what this high standard of living looks like. The saints! Just as the idea of being a fireman gives a small boy someone to admire and aspire to be like, becoming friends with the saints gives us inspiration for living our day to day lives. Pope Francis has said that it is “the saints who give direction and growth to the Church” and Pope Benedict XVI taught that “in every epoch of the Church’s history, on every latitude of the world map, the saints belong to all the ages and to every state of life.” Whoever we are, old, young, married, single, sick, healthy, lay person, or even bishop! there is a saint we can befriend and draw strength and inspiration from. Pope Benedict himself referred to St. Augustine and St. Bonaventure as his “travel companions for life.”
So, here’s our challenge for this week: get to know the saints! Pick a saint and read about his or her life or watch a video describing the saint. Perhaps, we might try to know more about a saint after whom we were named as babies or one whose name we took in Confirmation. Then, for this week, let us have a daily prayer devotion to that saint. We might go to our neighborhood Church and light a candle in honor of that saint. Perhaps, we can visit a shrine such as the Blessed Solanus Casey Center in Detroit or the Cross in the Woods in Indian River. The saints are the best teachers of our faith because they’re living proof that transformation in grace is possible. And it’s for everyone!
Get to know the saints!
Until next time, may almighty God bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing