C.S. Lewis describes an attitude that perhaps too many of us often settle for:
I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say “I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.” And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble.
But this is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us.
We should not be put off by Christ’s designs for us; we should not feel overwhelmed by the high calling that is to be a Christian. Very few of us possess a genius for religious practice or are capable of great feats of inspiration. Thankfully, this also means that very few people are truly wicked. The vast majority of us are right in the middle. If we aspire to be like the handful of rare, pious saints, we will fail miserably. If we simply try to be the best version of our not so magnificent selves, we’ll flourish. The mediocre man is the most moral man, not because he climbs to the greatest objectively measurable heights, but because he pushes himself as hard as he can possibly go. Effort is all. As free creatures, we should be cooperating with the help Christ gives us: You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), which is to say, “The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.” Becoming perfect is not a requirement you must achieve in order for God to help you. Rather, it is the goal and purpose for which God made you in the first place.
Thus the benefit of the witness of the saints in heaven, for we see how these others in their own earthly lives cooperated with the forging Christ invited them to be subjected to. Now in heaven, the saints want for us what they now enjoy, thus they also pray for us that in our own lives we allow Christ to do in us what He did in them. (Click on this link to discover saints you can relate to and ask for their intercession based on what they are patrons of.)
Finally, think of praying for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed as an opportunity to imitate Christ in being other-centered, for this is a key component on our path to perfection. In willing the good of the other, we find ourselves truly fulfilled. So offer this powerful prayer for the souls of the dead this November: Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
David J. Conrad