(Friends, this is a reflection by an old professor of mine, Robert Cassidy: one who has remained forever influential in my life! I wanted to share it in honor of All Saint’s day, and this season of remembrance of the Communion of Saints we all belong to. You can find more of his work on his blog: http://vivaimmaculata.com/2016/10/29/the-hatred-of-the-saints/). ~SM
Why was there such a hatred in the Saints? What was it they hated so much? Were their lives not filled with love of God, and of their neighbour for the love of God?
People Just Like Us?
Did you ever get tired of hearing that Saints were just like you and I? Did you ever think that this point was being overcooked and that there was something missing in saying: “Saints are not plastic, instead they are real people, just like us?” I think I know what is meant by that statement. Basically, it is this: those who are officially called saints were men and women who – like all of us – were born into a fallen world; who laboured under the effects of original sin; and so had to fight the good fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. I think that’s what it means, or rather, I hope that’s what it means. At the same time, it is also an exhortation to do as they did.
But what did they do that makes them to be Saints – with a capital “S”? Why are they enrolled in that great list that is honoured throughout the year, with their own Feast Days – traditionally, the day in which they were born into eternal life. The day they passed from this life into eternity. The day they died. Yes, your Granny might be a saint, but ‘All Saints Day’ is the day when the Church holds up, and invokes all those who she knows to be in Heaven. She knows in Faith that they have fought the good fight to the end. Granny and Grandad may have done so, but the Church has not officially said so. It’s better to pray for the repose of their souls. The Saints? They don’t need our prayers – we need theirs.
What makes them to be Saints? God’s grace, and their cooperation with it. They are works of God that give Him greater glory. We benefit from what God has done. Are they just like us? No, because they had a hatred in their lives that is very rarely spoken of – and that’s why, mistakenly, we think they are just ordinary, and just like us.
A Hatred Inspired by A Burning Love
What is there in your life that you love with a burning love? Who in your life would you die for? Maybe it’s your mother or your father; your brother or sister; maybe your husband or wife; maybe it’s your children. Maybe it’s even your country. Or as the say in some places, “yir ain folk”. Maybe you even have a deep affection for your pet cat!
Now, if your love burns for someone (or something) what would be your disposition towards that which seeks to destroy your union? If someone or something tried to kill your love, what would be your stance toward it? The Saints lived for one thing only: union with God. They loved with a passion almost beyond the imaging of mere mortals – they loved Love so much that they hated whatever could separate them from the union they had been brought into by God’s grace. They hated that one thing which you and I are often ambivalent to.
They hated sin.
They were not afraid of the Evil One and his minions – they didn’t hate them but pitied them.
They hated sin. They hated that rejection of Truth, which is sin. They hated that rejection of Love, which is sin. They hated that which could separate them eternally from the Most Blessed Trinity.
The Saints were intolerant towards sin. They loved the sinner – themselves included – but absolutely hated sin. It was love for God that drove them to this hatred. It was love for their neighbour for the love of God that drove them to this hatred. Their long penances and fasts; their vigils of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament; their longing for Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; their tears for their sins; their long pilgrimages; their sorrow at seeing so many souls trapped in sin – all of this came from their burning love for God. That burning love, which comes from grace perfecting nature. This love gave rise to a hatred for the one thing that could separate them from their True Love.
They loved, and so hated that which was not of Love itself. Was it a selfish love – something inspired by personal reasons? No. No. No. Such would be a contradiction. They would rather die than have one ounce of selfishness in their bones. Why do you think so many were martyrs and so many longed to be martyrs? They knew martyrdom was, and is, the greatest way to say: “I love you, my Lord and my God – because You have loved me first!”
Is Sin really So Bad? Are Saints Not Just Obsessive?
Love creates. Sin destroys. The Saints knew this in this life; and they know it fully now in eternity. That is why they pray for us. It is God’s will that man reflects His glory. Sin hides the truth about God in man’s life. But love is stronger than sin and death. This was the great insight known and lived by the Saints. They hated despair, because it denied the power of the Cross to conquer sin and death. They hated presumption, because it underestimated the need for the Cross. They knew the cost of man’s Redemption and hated whatever rejected Our Lord’s love for us. They hated doubt, because it denies God’s veracity – He has spoken and revealed what man needs to do to be saved. They hated false religions, because they stole souls from Christ, and so with a passion they baptised them in their millions. And they hated hatred of God and hatred of those created in His image and likeness, because this is gravest injustice against His right to be given the supreme worship that is due to Him alone. They hated sin in all its forms.
Is sin really so bad? Ask those who live amongst the tragedy of prostitution; ask those who live amongst the tragedy of drug addiction; ask those who try to help end the horror of war and the destruction of unborn life. But don’t even go that far. Look into your own soul and see what sin has done in your life. Is sin really so bad? The Saints cry at even the thought that someone would belittle the injustice of sin against Love Itself.
Do You Want to Be a Saint?
How does one become a Saint? The best answers are usually the shortest. The best answer is: will it! Most people don’t want to be Saints. They are indifferent to their sins. They settle for mediocrity and love soon withers. The Saints burn with love for Love. They would do anything for Love. They want Love because Love has shown them Its Face – Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is Love Incarnate, and the Saints are mad about Him. The Saints’ madness was reflected in their total trust. As they battled for Heaven, they trusted God’s Word absolutely. He, who cannot deceive nor be deceived, promised to bring them to Himself and they – in justice (it is right and just) – took Him at His Word. The Saints returned love to Love – and in doing so threw their own personal sins (and the sins of the whole world) in the Heart that consumes all sin. Like other Christs they carried the sins of the world into the great fire of Divine Justice and begged for Divine Mercy. Why? Because they loved – and still love God and us in God.
Do you you want to be a Saint? Do the same. Carry your sins into fire of Divine Justice, do penance for them, and trust – like the Saints who hated sin – that Divine Goodness will pour the love that is stronger than sin into the depth of your soul. This is the way of the Saints: living in Christ and with Christ for the Glory of God the Father.
All You Holy Men and Women, ora pro nobis!