October 31, 2008

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Become a saint by changing your heart

Sean GallagherI love All Saints Day.

It is kind of a celebration of the Church’s history, which I love to study.

It also spurs my imagination as I ponder the myriad of saints in all their wide variety now surrounding God’s throne, praising him eternally.

But it is a challenging feast, too. Why? Because we are all called to be saints. The purpose of our lives is to join the great company of saints in heaven.

To achieve that goal means that we have to live lives of grace-inspired change on this side of heaven.

We are not necessarily called to the kind of change that would transform us into a new Blessed Teresa of Calcutta or St. Francis of Assisi, although who knows where God wants to take us.

But there are lots of ways that God is inviting us to change the way we live in our homes, our workplace and all those places in society where we live our everyday lives.

Parents play a vital role in this saint-making process. They have their own lives to change. But often, the changes we need to make relate to our children.

We parents can grow in holiness when, with the aid of grace, we become a little more patient with our kids, correct them in a more calm tone of voice and give to them a little more of the time we like to keep to ourselves.

Hopefully, the grace that allowed us to grow in holiness in these small ways will then flow through our good example to our children, helping them also to change and grow closer to the saints that God has called them to be.

Another important way that parents can help their children grow in holiness is through the way they are approaching the upcoming national election.

Being responsible citizens and making sure that we vote are important parts of our moral lives. Voting, though, is ultimately a private affair that is over in a matter of minutes.

Forming our consciences well, however, is a more time-consuming process and, truth be told, is something that we will always be working at.

It is good for our children to see us doing that. It can happen through conversations about topics of concern in the election that we have around the dinner table or when we are sharing a long car ride with our kids.

When they see that we take our faith seriously and want our faith to shape the way we vote, the grace that is helping us to form our consciences according to the truth and not according to party loyalty will also be showered upon them for the same purpose.

But there is another way, perhaps less obvious, that can help our children grow in holiness by the way we approach this election.

It is by showing that this campaign season isn’t the end all be all of our lives.

Every four years, lots of people get themselves worked up to a fever pitch promoting their favorite candidate—whatever his or her party—as if the candidate is a secular messiah to cure all our ills with a single stroke of the pen.

Now, as I’ve said, taking one’s participation in the election seriously is a moral obligation for us.

But, in this election where “change” is the buzzword for more than one candidate, it is important for our children to see in our own behavior that, as important as changing our nation’s laws is, changing hearts—starting with our own—into the hearts of saints is the most important task for all of us and our nation. †

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