Monday, September 17, 2007

To Be a Saint

I've just finished reading a terrific book, My Life with the Saints, by James Martin. It is a sort of memoir, relating different periods of his life to different saints. One of the clear messages of the book is that God calls all of us to be saints. No matter what our limitations, no matter what our circumstances, God wants to make each one of us saints.

God is not calling us to be St. Joan of Arc or St. Francis of Assisi. God made each of us different, with a unique set of gifts and talents. God will make each of us saints in our own peculiar way. Thomas Merton said, "For me to be a saint means to be myself." God wants to make me all that God created me to be. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "You can do something I can't do. I can do something you can't do. Together let us do something beautiful for God."

To want to be a saint, then, is not pride. It is to want what God wants for me. Merton quotes a friend as saying, "All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don't you believe God will make you what He created you to be, if you consent to let Him do it? All you have to do is desire it." I do desire it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Peace in God's Will

I am reading Dante's Paradiso, in a new translation by Jean Hollander with extensive notes by her husband, Robert. Several times over the years I have started reading Dante's The Divine Comedy, but I never made it out of Hell. So when I read a very good review of this new translation I decided to start in Heaven. I am hoping it might help me with my attempts at a more contemplative life-style.

In the third canto the first person Dante meets in heaven says, "In His will is our peace." This line was one I heard about when we studied T.S. Eliot in college. He refers to it in his own lines:

"Teach us to care and not to care.

Teach us to sit still,

even among these rocks

our peace in His will."

I have known, then, that this is the way to a peace that can possess our hearts even in the midst of pain and worry, but getting my will in sync with God's will is not easy. As I become more aware of God living in me and, especially, as I become better able to give myself to God within me, I want God to help me think the way God thinks and to want what God wants. In that way my will lines us more with God's will and I will be more and more at peace.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blissful Stillness

Last Wednesday was a uniquely quiet day. There was not a ripple on the Lake. No breeze. Sometimes hours would go by without a boat anywhere in sight. No ducks. No geese. No sound, not even a distant sound of a lawn mower or of a truck backing up or of a dog barking.

The day was sunny and warm. The stillness and peace made me think of the silence of God. I found myself wondering if this were what heaven was like, this perfect bliss.

At a funeral yesterday I this is what we pray for when we say, "May they rest in peace." An end of suffering. But even more, to be held forever in the warm embrace of Blissful Stillness.