By Nathaniel Richards
At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God. I will go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity p. 226)
As human beings, you and I have immortal souls. Our time here on earth is a pilgrimage. Whether we will live forever with God or live forever apart from Him is something that we are working out day by day with “fear and trembling” (Philip. ii. 12). Contemplating our battle, we know where our hearts long to be concerning our eternal destiny, yet we have still a bit of the race to run.
Therefore, in order to bolster and edify ourselves in the theological virtue of hope, we would do well for ourselves if we would consider our forerunners in the Faith, who have finished their course and won the race. I am referencing, of course, those admirable—and quite active—citizens of Heaven known as the saints. They come in all shapes and sizes and are delightfully different and unique…a testament that God can use anyone to proclaim His Glory. For our purposes, we will focus on why saintly diversity is something to be celebrated, because it means that holiness is attainable for everyone who desires to be a friend of God.
Our Holy Mother the Church remembers and honors her children who have fought valiantly for Christ Jesus on November 1st—All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows. This is a magnificent solemnity. On this day, we members of the Church Militant look up to our elder brethren in the Church Triumphant and have our hearts filled with joyous anticipation that one day we will join them in Paradise. Another word, for that joy? Hope.
Indeed, our hope to be like the holy ones is rooted in one common goal: to be pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ and to be found like Him. This dazzling array of sanctified splendor is His doing, after all, for it pleases the Lord to make saints of all types. For more on this, consider this passage from St. Thérèse:
For a long time I had wondered why God had preferences, why He did not give the same degree of grace to everyone. I was rather surprised that He should pour out such extraordinary graces on great sinners like St. Paul, St. Augustine and so many others, forcing His grace on them, so to speak. I was rather surprised, too, when reading the lives of the Saints, to find our Lord treating certain privileged souls with greatest tenderness from the cradle to the grave, removing all obstacles, from their upward path to Him, and preserving the radiance of their baptismal robe from the stains of sin. Also, I wondered why so many poor savages die without even hearing our Lord’s name. Jesus chose to enlighten me on this mystery. He opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own, that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm. I saw that if every little flower wished to be a rose, Nature would lose her spring adornments, and the field would be no longer enameled with their varied flowers.
So it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord. It pleases Him to create great Saints, who may be compared with the lilies or the rose; but He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets, nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are.
I saw something further: that our Lord’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields completely to His Grace as it does through the greatest. True love is shown in self-abasement, and if everyone were like the saintly doctors who adorn the Church, it would seem that God had not far enough to stoop when He came to them. But He has, in fact, created the child, who knows nothing and can only make feeble cries, and the poor savage, with only the Natural Law to guide him; and it is to hearts such as these that He stoops. What delights Him is the simplicity of these flowers of the field, and by stooping so low to them, He shows how infinitely great He is. Just as the Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small. Everything is ordered for their good, just as in nature the seasons are so ordered that the smallest daisy comes to bloom at its appointed time. (Thérèse, The Story of a Soul (TAN, 2010), 3-5).
Indeed, we Christians in the Church Militant are growing and are members of what St. Thérèse called a “living garden of the Lord” (Thérèse, 4). Though we walk through a seeming vale of tears in our pilgrimage here on earth, what we must realize is that we are experiencing a prelude to a great adventure. This world is not all there is and there is something far better yet to come. When the Lord Jesus comes back again to inspect His garden, we will be His delight, sharing in the eternal life of the Holy Trinity—Who is a relationship of Love in and of Himself. For the Lord Jesus was called by St. Paul the power…and the wisdom of God (I Cor. i. 24). As sons in the Son, we shall share in that interplay of love between the Father and the Son. And we shall say like Wisdom says that we will be delighted every day, playing before him at all times (Prov. viii. 30). And all shall be all in that city where the Lamb is the Light (Apoc. xxi. 23), for His delight as the Wisdom of God are to be with the children of men (Prov. viii. 31).
All ye holy men and women, citizens of that Everlasting City, pray for us.
Editor’s note: please support the Richards Family Medical Fund.
Nathaniel Richards is a Catholic husband and father who lives in the Ozarks. He enjoys collecting Catholic books and promises that one day he will read most of them—eventually, maybe. Starting a Catholic bookstore that sells books rather than gifts is a dream of his. He converted from Oneness Pentecostalism to Anglicanism and eventually made his way to Catholicism in 2015.