In his famous work, St. Josemaría says:
You have the obligation to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks this is the exclusive concern of priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: ‘Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect’ (The Way 291).
Pope Francis says the same in Gaudete et Exsultate:
“To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain” (Gaudete et Exsultate 14).
Sanctifying ordinary life makes holiness achievable by all, which makes true happiness achievable by all. Pope Francis gives us a down-to-earth example:
“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: ‘No, I will not speak badly of anyone.’ This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step” (ibid. 16).
Holiness is simply a loving relationship with God. So all we need to do to become a saint is to learn how to love:
“In this way, led by God’s grace, we shape by many small gestures the holiness God has willed for us, not as men and women sufficient unto ourselves but rather ‘as good stewards of the manifold grace of God’ (1Peter 4:10). The New Zealand bishops rightly teach us that we are capable of loving with the Lord’s unconditional love, because the risen Lord shares his powerful life with our fragile lives: ‘His love set no limits and, once given, was never taken back. It was unconditional and remained faithful. To love like that is not easy because we are often so weak. But just to try to love as Christ loved us shows that Christ shares his own risen life with us. In this way, our lives demonstrate his power at work – even in the midst of human weakness’” (ibid. 18).
So let’s begin this wonderful adventure of love by responding to Christ’s love for us, “uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way… The contemplation of these mysteries, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola pointed out, leads us to incarnate them in our choices and attitudes” (ibid. 20).