We are all called by God to be saints. This is the singular vocation of a Christian. There is no other calling greater than this.
There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint. – Jacques Maritain
We are all called by God to be saints. This is the singular vocation of a Christian. There is no other calling greater than this. Our roles as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, as coworkers and citizens, are merely the instrumental ways through which we work out our highest calling, the calling to be saints.
The “tragedy” in the quote above has two dimensions: the personal and the communal. As a human being, a sinner, I will never achieve the perfection of the Father in my life. It is beyond my creaturely abilities. God knows this. Yet, what God loves is our willingness, our desire to turn to him, to honor him with our lives. When we respond to his call he gives us graces according to his will, and in accord with what he knows are our needs. What Jesus wants of us, then, is simply our willingness to let him walk with us on the rugged path to sainthood, which will inevitably have its crosses to bear. But Jesus will not abandon us. The Holy Spirit will always be with those who choose to walk the path to sainthood.
As for the other dimension, when we fail to respond to the call to sainthood, the world does not get to see the effects, or the challenges of the real and holy dimensions of our God-given freedom. “When we become passive, we lose our freedom. Freedom is something active and alive…A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” G.K. Chesterton. A saint is never passive. A saint is charged with life and the activities of love. A passive love is no love at all. “Happy are the poor in spirit, the gentle, those who mourn, or hunger and thirst for what is right, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, yes even those who are persecuted, who suffer abuse and calumny against them, for their reward will be great in heaven. (See: Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 for further “roadmaps” to sainthood) This is the sainthood that we are all called to by the Word of God, Jesus Christ. This is the only true path to joy.