Monday, October 30, 2017
Angelique Ruhi-Lopez - Florida Catholic
Ask a room full of people if they want to become saints and only a scant few will raise their hands.
Trust me, I have tried this experiment on a few occasions during talks I have given. People tend to think being a saint means they need to be perfect here on earth; and in some people’s minds, that equates to having no fun.
This, of course, is an erroneous view of what it means to be a saint. We may know the names of a few saints who are canonized and we call upon them as our heavenly friends, but we are all called to be saints; meaning, we are all called to share in Christ’s eternal glory in heaven.
Even though I am aware that heaven is really my home, I often live very rooted on this earth, attached to my worldly possessions and my very human thoughts and fears. But a few experiences recently reminded me of my need to fix my eyes on our ultimate eternal destination.
Three years ago, in October, two of my grandparents passed away within three days of one another. It was a difficult time, but fortunately, God’s grace has helped to heal the grieving process for our whole family. Still, every October, those few days when we remember their deaths can be bittersweet.
This year, God truly showed me that our beloved departed — who we hope are members of the communion of saints — are still united with us in spirit and in prayer.
My grandmother, who was very dear to me, used many funny and colorful cultural sayings when expressing herself. One of her favorite comments when saying goodbye after visiting our home was, “Me voy con mi música para otra parte,” which directly translated means, “I’m leaving with my music to another place.” Of course, this means nothing in English but in Spanish it is a cheery way of saying goodbye.
I know that my grandmother did not coin this phrase but I had not heard the expression used by anyone else since my grandmother passed away. Needless to say, when I heard a client at work use it for the first time in over three years — and within a few days of the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing — I had to both smile and cry. All of a sudden, the symbolic meaning of those words dawned on me: She truly had gone with her music, that beautiful melody she brought into our lives, to another place; and as our Christian hope teaches us, to a better place, where she joined with all the choirs of angels praising God for all eternity.
Then, at my preschooler’s Hispanic Heritage celebration just a few days later, we were surprised (and nervous) to find that our son was performing in a skit about Christopher Columbus. His role? He played the crew member who first spotted land on one of Columbus’ ships.
What’s funny about this is that I grew up hearing my grandfather’s stories about how our family was descended from this very man, a sailor on one of Columbus’ ships who first spotted land. Whether this story was true — we had our doubts.
Yet my 4-year-old proudly stood on a picnic table at his pre-school, grabbed his makeshift periscope, looked out into the horizon and yelled, “Tierra a la vista!” (“Land in sight!”) I couldn’t stop laughing tearfully, not only remembering my grandfather’s story, which may or may not have been a tall tale, but also the fact that there is new land in sight beyond the one we can see here on earth, one that we hope and pray my grandparents and all our beloved departed are inhabiting at this very moment.
Lately, I have been struggling with the here and now, nothing major, just some of the very human trials and tribulations that come with living this side of heaven. But these very timely “God-incidences” reminded me that we are continually being pointed toward heaven, our ultimate home.
As 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 tells us: “Therefore, we are not discouraged;rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Wanting to become a saint means wanting to live with Christ forever in heaven (and, let’s face it, we really don’t want the alternative). We are all called to join in the communion of saints who are praying for us and waiting for us, just on the other side of this transitory earth, where the music is playing in our true Promised Land.
So what about you? Do you want to be a saint?