Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saintliness


80,000 pilgrims filled St. Peter's Square on
October 21, 2012, for the canonizations

Seven new saints this week. How wonderful is that! 

I have always loved the stories of the saints. As a young child, it is no wonder that I especially loved reading about the ones that messed up in their lives—yet still came to have lives holy enough to be declared official saints.


A few years ago in her wonderful blog, Creo en Dios!, my friend and spiritual director Susan Stabile quoted author Ron Rolheiser and his unusual definition of saintliness:
 “Gratitude is the ultimate virtue—even more so than love. What makes someone a saint is gratefulness. Because love is only real when it’s fueled by gratitude. If it’s fueled by resentment or duty, its’ going to cause resentment or be manipulative. If someone asks, ‘Who’s the most saintly person you know?’ I would say the most grateful person. Gratitude becomes the fuel for everything. It’s not just coincidental that the word eucharist means ‘gratitude’.”
I know—and understand this to be true–with my head, and I do believe it with my whole heart. But there are days when my body hurts, and it feels so draining that my mind can’t think straight. Gratitude feels very distant.


And it’s not that I don’t WANT to be grateful. But all my energy becomes focused on ascertaining how to feel better, how to control the pain. It’s all I think about. It consumes me. I can’t even begin to tell you how else I am feeling—or if there is anything else that I feel.

It is days like this when I find great comfort in the story of the Greek woman, the Syrophoenician, who heard about Jesus and simply “came and fell at his feet” [Mark 7:25].

When I don’t know what I feel. When I can’t think what words to pray. All I really need to do is fall at Jesus’ feet, as I am, and beg him with my presence. This is more than enough prayer.