Welcome to the Saints in 16 Book Club! We’re reading My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live , by Maria Morera Johnson.
When the kids are occupied (or, even better, asleep), and the house is quiet, I try to take some time to reflect on my faith journey.
What have I been doing to move forward on the path of holiness? Have I been praying enough? Have I been taking time to listen to God? Have I taken any steps recently to increase my patience, my other-centeredness, or my humility?
Most often, I feel like I’m coming up short, and I try and figure out ways to “conquer” myself, and this thing called holiness that I want so badly to achieve. Of course, holiness isn’t something to be achieve or conquered, and this line of thinking can often lead me down the wrong path. Instead, holiness is a relationship where we learn to give everything of ourselves…but often times, what we have to give doesn’t feel like it’s worth giving.
To be honest, if I’m thinking about the holy man I’d like to become, it’s pretty much the opposite of who I currently am.
Right now, I’m a loud, sarcastic, easily frustrated, worldly-focused individual. In order to “feel” holy, I pray for the grace to become the opposite of all those things.
And yet, Maria Morera Johnson’s book has challenged me to look at the person I am, look at the person God created, and consider that He may have given me certain qualities in order to help me to be a better evangelist for the faith, a more effective missionary for Him.
It almost seems too absurd to consider, but the reflections from Maria’s own life and that of the saints she presents us in Chapters 3 and 4 of her book My Badass Book of Saints seems to point to that absurd idea as a real truth. And quite possibly, the real key to growing in holiness.
It actually seems that our holy heroes have accepted this idea and run with it. They have taken the best qualities of themselves and worked hard to point them toward the greater glory of God.
Be it Edel Quinn, who pushed forward to be herself in order to follow God’s will, despite a debilitating illness. Or St. Helena, who realized that her position in life gave her an opportunity to share God’s message with others. Or Mother Mary Lange, who quite simply worked to help those in her neighborhood and ended up changing the world. Or St. Catherine of Siena, who despite living only 33 years used her personality to become one of the most important, influential, and courageous women in the history of the Catholic Church.
Or Maria Morera Johnson, who shows us in these chapters how being herself has set off a fire in others. And no matter how small that fire may seem to Maria, it has the capacity to set the world ablaze when aided by her brothers and sisters in Christ, and the grace of God Himself.
Maria shows us that while we may want to dress up and learn ballet because everyone else is doing it, playing basketball might be the path the Lord wants us to take.
So, rather than sitting around and praying for God to change us so that we may be the person He wants us to be, let’s ask Him to make us more of who we are.
By embracing who we are and who He made us to be, we just might change the world, simply by being ourselves.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- Think of a quality that you generally don’t like about yourself. How can you re-frame that quality into a positive trait to be used to spread God’s love to others?
- Take a moment to thank God for making you who you are, and ask Him to help you say yes to His will in a way that capitalizes on the person you have become.
- Think of a part of your personal spiritual life that you would like to share with others. How can you take a small step toward achieving that goal?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 5 and 6. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Saints in 16 Book Club page.
Copyright 2016 Thomas Tighe