I don’t want to become a saint and leave behind some sort of legacy. People often say, in fact the church asks us to strive for sainthood but I don’t want it. I always just encourage myself and others to be a good Holy Christian. I don’t want to be recognised and leave behind some sort of legacy.
Here’s the thing, I want to be a saint alright ( Sanctus = Holy) I just want to protect myself from romanticising it. We’ve all closed our eyes when we were kids and wished we were The pop singer being praised and worshipped by millions.
I feel that many of us fall into the spiritual trap laid out for us that we strive to be Holy before the world only because we want to be remembered and romanticise people kissing our icons when we’re dead and gone or flipping through our theological books ( if we’ve written any ) remarking how “intelligent and full of the Holy Spirit we were”.
It’s like the guy who becomes charitable only because he himself gets a kick out of helping people. Can it really be called charity if we are giving only to receive the profitable inflation of our ego as a result? Is that really selfless giving?
Likewise with sainthood. What do we want it for? Maybe I’m wrong by saying I don’t want to be a saint or that we shouldn’t strive for saint hood. Perhaps I’m afraid to because like alms giving and love whose meaning has been torn in two, the meaning of sainthood has also been torn in two.
I’ll give you another example. A guy sees a fellow solider about to be blown by a grenade. The soldier jumps on the grenade to save his friend. He effectively lays down his life for his friend. This is selfless love right? Surely that guy died a saint. But how do we know his intentions? What was running through his mind? Maybe it was “I’ll be remembered as a great hero ” and I’ll leave behind a great legacy and they’ll erect statues in my honour”.
So I’m asking you now what goes through your mind when you think of sainthood? What do you want it for?
You know one of the reasons God put many of the saints throughout the centuries into a spiritual desert where he deprived them of all graces and consolations, was to humble them. He didn’t want them falling in love with the experience and develop a relationship with the graces but Christ Himself. Therefore he deprived them of these to remind them of who it is they should be looking at. It’s all part of the training.
Why, then, do we want to be saints? When we think about sainthood, are we more in love with the idea of becoming a saint or becoming closer to God? Are you striving to be a Saint or are you striving to enter a relationship with God?
I am weak and so I always ignore my desire to become a saint or when the desire presents itself I ask myself why I want to be a saint. I want to just focus on my relationship with God every day and be an ordinary Christian striving for Holiness through a relationship with God.
The church has these definitions of what a saint should be before they recognise someone as a saint. I won’t go too deep but some are “led a good life, no skeletons in the closet and practiced what he preached ”
That’s the only definition they have. I disagree with this assessment. Yes, I actually disagree with the Catholic Church for once. Not that I’m more clever than they.
A saint is someone who can also be a great sinner who endured to the end. I’ll give you an example. Elder Paisos of the Holy mountain Athos one related a story to people who complained about a monk who was always drunk when he greeted them at the gates. When he died they related to the monk Paisos how relieved they were this sinful monk was dead. Elder Paisos said “ah yes him, I saw a thousand angels come to take his soul to heaven when he died”.
The people were scandalised by this. They reminded Elder Paisos just how sinful this monk was and how could he a drunk get into heaven? So the monk told the story.
A boy once came to the monastery and he drank strong raka and was drunk. He was an alcoholic since birth as his parents, who worked in Asia Minor ) gave him strong raka to get him to sleep. He cried a lot as they worked in the fields so this is why they did this. He grew up an alcoholic. The Elder Paisos advised the new novice to pray to the Theotokos and make many prostrations everyday and to slowly eliminate the amount of glasses of raka he consumed a day.
The monk did this and after many years of prayer he reduced himself from 10 a day to just 1 glass. The raka was so strong however that it still made him drunk and stink of alcohol.
So, said Paisos, “what you saw was a dirty sinner unworthy of heaven but what God saw was a saintly warrior who endured to the end and fought the devil all the way until his last breath.
So you see, we need to ask ourselves why we want to be saints and what a saint actually is. Unfortunately I have always felt the hierarchy of the Catholic Church whom I love and am obedient to, have overlooked many many saints throughout the centuries .