Stumbling Toward Sainthood

This Lent has already been a whole lotta crash and burn for me. And yes, I realize this is only Wednesday of the SECOND week. As per the norm, although a bit earlier this year, my penance has changed. My initial spiritual growth got stunted quickly but on that front I’ve regrouped and am doing much better.

God has put a lot on our plates this Lent what with trying to get our house ready to go back on the market and having to make weighty decisions about where to move to. God never did promise it would be easy.

God has also given us quite a bit this Lent in the way of blessings. Health appears to have been (mostly) restored to our family. I am getting new opportunities at work because, three years in, my bosses are super keen to reward those of us who’ve proven our loyalty time and again.

And the Holy Spirit is at it AGAIN!!! Only my dear Holy Spirit would choose Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, as Joseph’s patron for 2015. Because he would be the sickliest of my kids this year (strep, flu, walking pneumonia, allergies, asthma…) and she’s a patron of sick people. Why didn’t that hit me with a 2×4?

And then there is Shelby. Oh my Shelby. Shelby had norovirus and strep throat. At the same time. Thank you St Courtney Lenaburg for being with my girl during the puking AND the throat culture (after that, the penicillin shot was no big deal!). She had a great time on her field trip that I, sadly, could not attend to the planetarium. She also decided Tuesday she was going to melt down both at school and home for no reason any of us could figure out, out of the blue. Once that whole episode was behind us, she became hell-bent and determined to get into everything off-limits to her. And when I say everything…

If anyone is helping me to earn my sainthood, it’s Shelby. A couple of years ago when she destroyed some beloved Halloween decorations my mom had given me from my childhood, I got angry then got over it. And I posted on facebook,

“God, I don’t remember asking to be rid of my attachment to material possessions, but thank you for the lesson.”

While a lot of people joke about their children saying, “This is why we can’t have nice stuff.” Well, Shelby puts a whole new twist on that. And I’ve come to realize, it’s not a bad thing because it’s just “stuff” and I shouldn’t be so attached to it. I can’t take any of it with me!

I was sharing with my mother that God gave me Shelby to help detach myself from material possessions out of nowhere during a recent visit. My mother is in the process of becoming a secular Franciscan. This is a process I would say started, for her, as a teenager living in extreme south-western upstate NY and attending St Bonaventure parish (at the campus of St Bonaventure University) which is, as you can imagine Franciscan. As a high school student, a young seminarian was her Faith Formation teacher and he is now the pastor of that parish (which my grandparents still attend). Over the years, we have been (and by we I mean my parents and I, although my dad probably to a lesser extend than my mom) attracted to the teachings of St Francis and we have been members of a parish run by Franciscan Friars. Yes, it is St Francis of Assisi parish. Anyway, 2 years ago my parents joined my grandparents and a group from St Bonaventure parish in Olean, NY (including the pastor) on a Franciscan pilgrimage to Italy. They visited Rome, went to the Papal audience, Assisi and St Bonaventure’s birthplace. And upon returning, my mother expressed her deep desire to become a Secular Franciscan. She formally began the process this fall. And it has not been without some interesting detours. Take, for example, her new glasses. Just after Christmas, my parents visited us and my mom asked if I liked her new glasses. I told her I did and noticed they were Coach and remarked how they were very chic and high end/sophisticated, as the brand suggests. Wrong answer. She became worried that in her quest to become less attached to material things, she had somehow picked a high end brand of new glasses.  No such thing. My mother is not aware of all the fancy brands and had no idea Coach was considered expensive and fancy. In fact, she picked the frames because she thought they looked plain and did not draw attention to themselves. She picked those frames for the right reasons. She didn’t choose them for the label or to make a statement of her tax bracket. She knows they will eventually wear out and when that happens, she won’t bemoan the loss of a pair of designer frames!

Our quests toward sainthood are never perfect. St Peter denied Christ three times after assuring Christ he would not. And countless other saints had bad tempers, doubts and any other number of faults. We are, after all, all human. In yesterday’s Blessed is She Devotion was this quote:

“Looking up to human beings, even saints, will only take us so far . . . humans are human. God does not want us to live a life of constant comparison with others, but on imitation of Christ alone.”–Cassie Kent

And when I ask a saint’s intercession, it is the desire to be a part of the Communion of Saints, not to be that saint, and live a life pleasing to God. There are road blocks. There are moments of doubt–profound doubt. There are times of questioning. There is resistance. But however we stumble toward sainthood, we stumble toward Christ. And in His mercy and forgiveness, He does not keep count of all our failures and stumbles along the way.