Let's be saints

Originally Appeared in : 9714-7/6/17

“How can I be a saint,” 7-year-old Isabel asked me the other day. We were talking about Mary, Jesus’ mommy, and Isabel told me she wanted to be like her.


In these kinds of parenting moments, it can be temping to climb up on a soapbox and start really unloading the information. But the beautiful thing about talking with a 7-year-old is that you have to be brief.


My daughter and I could have a conversation about this, but I couldn’t give a lecture.


“To be a saint,” I told Isabel as I prayed for wisdom, “you have to love God and do whatever he asks you to do.”


Pretty simple. I waited for a second to see if I should add anything else, but nothing worth noting came to mind.


Of course I could have added all kinds of other things, but the most distilled version of a path to sanctity, of moving (Lord willing) towards being a saint, focuses on the importance of having a relationship with the King of the Universe and of doing what he asks.


The two go hand-in-hand so seamlessly because the deeper our love of God  – our friendship with him  – the more in tune we are with what He asks of us. We know what we are supposed to do in a simple, organic way because we are in constant communion with him.


The challenge of being a human is that we make things complicated. Yes there is scripture to learn and tomes to read and who am I to make the path towards being a saint so simple? But at its most basic being a saint means loving God. The way that looks for each one of us will vary. The things God asks of us will vary. What holiness looks like will vary.


How can holiness vary, you might ask (as I’m asking myself as I write this?). Maybe holiness is universal, but the way we get there isn’t. That’s where doing what God asks of us comes in. Each one of us has our own path, our own Yes to Jesus in the areas he needs that yes. 


And the beautiful thing about working on that deep friendship with God is how we will become so confident in who he made us to be that we won’t feel threatened by what others are doing. What God is doing within each one of us is truly unique and without compare. The closer we draw to Christ, the more we will know this to be true.


Too many years I spent comparing myself to others, wondering if my relationship with God stacked up. Are my prayers holy? Is my focus good? What if someone else has it figured out better than I do?


What if I’m not doing as well as I think?


Satan loves it when we compare ourselves to others, because it keeps us from being at peace with where we are. We always want to be moving forward, growing in heroic virtue and strength, but we need to be at peace doing that in God’s time instead of what we think is going on with those around us. 


God has a plan for each one of us, and at the heart of that plan is joy and true freedom. He loves you so much, and the more you focus on an intimate friendship with him, the more those comparisons and fears will fall away. You won’t worry how you stack up with those around you, because you are at peace with where God has you right now.


“God is not our rival,” writes Bishop Robert Barron, “rather he is the one who rejoices in our being fully alive. God pours out the whole of creation in an effervescent act of generosity, and then, even more surprisingly, he draws his human creatures, through Christ, into the intimacy of friendship with him.”


Lord, draw us where you would have us! Let us be saints in the way you need us to be. Let us hear your voice and feel the peace that only comes with being fully in the center of your will and in deep, intimate friendship with you.


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at

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