This is true; I know it. How often we've read the life of the day's saint and marveled at the amazing numbers of converts that different saints brought to the Faith! The figures defy the imagination sometimes! St. Francis DeSales, for example, is said to have converted 72,000 Calvinists, and St. Raymond of Pennafort converted over 10,000 Muslims! And these are only two men It's mind boggling to consider what the world would be like if we had even a handful of St. Raymonds and St. Francises at one time.
But, consider C.S. Lewis's theory. Ten percent of the world's population right now would make approximately 715 million holy people doing good on Earth. I'm betting that really would make this a happy place. And we'd have such a happy Heavenly Father!
Wouldn't you just love to be part of such a thing? If only we really could swing it before the year's end! If only it were as easy as it sounds! All we have to do is be holy and we'll draw souls to Christ and make the world a happy place. Alright. What if we want to try this? What does that mean we have to do exactly?
What is holiness?
Here's how the saints explain it:
--St. Therese of the Infant Jesus
The state of grace is nothing other than purity, and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it. Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity, exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults; purity will make saints of you! Everything lies in this!
--St. Peter Eymard
There is no surer way to know that one is a saint than to see him lead a holy life and yet suffer desolation, trials and tribulations.
--St. Louis Gonzaga
Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well.
--St. Anthony Mary Claret
“That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell”
--St. Thomas Aquinas
"We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. I will be a saint means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God."
--Blessed Mother Teresa
"Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace."
God’s invitation to become saints is for all, not just a few. Sanctity therefore must be accessible to all. In what does it consist? In a lot of activity? No. In doing extraordinary things? No, this could not be for everybody and at all times. Therefore, sanctity consists in doing good, and in doing this good in whatever condition and place God has placed us. Nothing more, nothing outside of this.
--Blessed Louis Tezza
If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ.
--Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.
--Saint Francis of Assisi
All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.
--Saint Francis de Sales
”The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.”
--Saint Alphonsus Liguori
You see the same thread throughout, don't you? For the most part, the saints here all agree that the best road to sanctity lies in love of God and living up to our station in life as God has willed it, while persevering in patience and piety through (inevitable) difficulties and setbacks. Not as easy as it sounds, but certainly doable. We don't have to sit around in sack cloth and ashes; we don't have to sit on a pillar or wall ourselves up in an anchorhold. We just have to love God, obey the rules (that's a given), and do the best we can in the sphere of our own lives.
Like Nike says: just do it.
And even if the numbers of holy people don't suddenly escalate in 2014 to make the big wide world a happy place, I know that by pushing toward holiness, myself, my own world will be a happier place. Which is, I think, all that God is asking me to do, anyway.
Here's to holy people! Here's to trying our best to be one of them!
Happy second day of Lent!