“The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. Respectable people [can settle elsewhere].” –Oscar Wilde
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Me in 2011, Huehuetenango, Guatemala)
“If Jesus told his followers to sell everything they own, give the money to the poor, and follow him…why don’t we do that?”
That question was the beginning of my end. It destroyed me.
Some gave answers. “It doesn’t apply to everyone.” “It’s an exaggeration.” “If everyone sold everything, then no one would have anything.” “Don’t be so literal.”
I didn’t buy it. Christians are hypocrites. Jesus and his early followers were the most radical figures I’d ever encountered, but Christians today are generally the most normal, mediocre people I’ve ever encountered. A young idealist sees life in Jesus but often finds death in the contemporary Church.
Aspiring saints of the world, UNITE!
The saints: their stories are amazing. What trust! What poverty! Yet, when I ask people about sainthood today, they say, “Just accept yourself as you are! Don’t strive to be perfect! It’s not ‘psychologically sound.'” How often are holy desires crushed to pieces by words of complacency!
“I want a mess in the dioceses!” So says Pope Francis. I think he means, “I want saints. I am tired of lukewarm Christians. Wake up!”
In addressing the Jesuits in Rome, Pope Francis gave the example of St. Alberto Hurtado: “He was a thorn in the side of a dormant church!” Arise! “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
I have seen examples of sainthood, a few… There are holy catechists, there are holy teachers, there are holy Jesuits.
However, I have not seen holiness greater than what I saw in Guatemala.
The work was tireless. There was political organizing. There were long journeys out into the countryside. There was personal sacrifice. Youth were dreaming up plans for their futures. Blood, sweat, and tears. Picketing. It was a mess, but it was a sacred, beautiful, and radical mess. People went to mass on Sunday, and the mass meant something. There were all night vigils for those who had died. “Come and follow me.”
The Church in Guatemala gave me hope for a Church of the poor, for the poor.
To die young with desires for holiness is better than to die old with disillusionment.
The soul will stand for nothing less than sainthood. Give it food. Feed the flames. Pray constantly. Love patiently. Work for justice.
I am a sinner. Oh yes, I am a sinner, but I don’t want to be one. Yes, the flame has withered at times in my life, but I can’t stand it!
My prayer: God, make me a Christian, a follower of Christ. I’ll seek nothing less, and you will give me nothing less.
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.
P.S.1. I thank the many people who have shown me what it means to be holy, to be poor, to be like Christ. Your dedicated has inspired me to follow Christ in the Jesuits.
P.S.2. The comments about “lukewarm” Christians are not in reference to anyone in particular. I find myself lukewarm at times; however, with Christ’s help we can be Christians who love, hope, and believe with radical devotion.