3 Really Simple (but hard) Practices of Saints | Wisdom Wednesday
How does one become a Saint? Well, repentance is step one, of course, followed by faith in Jesus Christ, frequent participation in the Sacraments, and practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. But the many lists of 7 that the Church offers us to help on our path to Sainthood can be daunting, especially if we don't understand how to implement what they call for on a daily, human level. So why don't we take a small step back, and examine a few ways we can reshape our day-to-day practices by looking at the lives of the Saints.
Pray for others
We know we're supposed to pray. But before jumping straight to the Liturgy of the Hours, let's try and reprioritize what and for whom we are praying. We make all our prayers in Jesus' name, and it's important to remember that. Praying in Jesus' name helps us to be immediately attentive to those instances when we may be selfish or materialistic in prayer. One way we can be selfish in prayer is by focusing primarily on ourselves and our needs (when we know Jesus wants us to be more focused on the needs of others).
St Monica, whose feast we celebrate today, is known for her fervent prayer for St Augustine, her son. St Augustine's conversion to Christianity is attributed at least in part to the prayer of his mom. We don't know much about St Monica's daily life, but we do know that a significant amount of her spiritual energy was devoted to thinking about and praying - not for herself, but for her son.
Follow your Conscience
Christians are called to carefully form their consciences according to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the Church. We can do our best to form our consciences well, but at the end of the day the conscience is the best tool we each have to knowing God's will for us and the course to right action. You should always defer to your conscience.
Speaking of the primacy of conscience, St Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying:
Every judgement of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins.
St Teresa of Avila was a mystic and reformer of the Carmelite order. She's a Doctor of the Church and a popular Saint. But did you know she was censured by the Spanish Inquisition for her work? In the face of suppression from Church leadership, St Teresa did not recant or renounce her practices. She obeyed the order to retire and appealed to the King of Spain to advocate for her. After the charges against her were finally dropped, she continued to promulgate her reforms.
Engage your Community
Countless wonderful Saints had a real, sincere commitment to their communities. They gave their time and material resources to benefit their neighbors. They used what influence they had to do good in their immediate vicinity.
If you can't turn your home into a hospital like Saint Frances of Rome, continually give all your clothes away like St Catherine of Siena, or invent the first hospice like St Basil the Great, perhaps you can start by getting to know some of the people in your community and becoming acquainted with their needs. Offer some time working at a soup kitchen or volunteering in some other capacity for a local organization. There are a lot of ways to be present for others, and that is the spirit of the radical giving of great Saints.