There are saints and saints. Some we may call “extraordinary saints” and some “ordinary saints.”
Extraordinary saints are raised up by God for some extraordinary mission, and to these God gives extraordinary means to carry out that mission.
Such were, for instance, St. Dominic, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola and a host of others.
St. Dominic was raised up by God to defend the Church against the Albigensian heretics, who taught the vilest doctrines and perpetrated the most hideous crimes. Kings sent armies against them, the Pope sent holy men to check them, but all in vain.
God then raised up St. Dominic who, by the holiness of his life and his earnest preaching, converted 100,000 of these hardened sinners in a remarkably short time.
Notwithstanding his austere life and incessant labors, there was no one more joyful, more lovable than St. Dominic. He was sad only when he heard of the sorrows of others or of offenses committed against his dear Lord.
The Saint founded three religious orders, which have given to the Church notable saints, missionaries, martyrs, bishops and popes.
What especially endears him to us is the fact that it was he who gave us the Rosary, which God’s Holy Mother had given to him.
Who has not heard of the seraphic St. Francis of Assisi, so famous for his profound humility, his extreme poverty and his burning love of God, as a reward of which he received on his hands and feet and in his side the Sacred Stigmata, the marks of Christ’s five wounds.
He, too, founded three religious orders, which have given many and great saints to the Church, people such as St. Bonaventure, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Clare and many others, saints who shine as bright stars in the firmament of Heaven.
St. Ignatius of Loyola is another example of an extraordinary saint. He began life as a soldier in the army of Spain, but God called him to be a great soldier of Holy Church. To him was given the mission to battle against the pseudo-reformers, as to St. Dominic had been given the task of converting the Albigenses.
His glorious order, the Society of Jesus, has done and is ever doing a mighty work for the glory of God and for the welfare of the world at large. His sons are ever in the vanguard of the battle, fighting valiantly against the enemies of Christ.
Now these extraordinary saints, inspired by God, used extraordinary means to achieve their great ends.
They labored incessantly, spent long hours in prayer, fasted rigorously and did severe penance. God favored them with supernatural visions and revelations and gave them the power of working miracles.
Ordinary Christians are not called upon to do such mighty deeds, nor are they asked or advised to imitate the long prayers, the rigorous fasts of these extraordinary saints.
There is, however, a second class of saints, ordinary saints. Bear in mind that these saints are no less saints than the others; they are true saints and have reached exalted heights of sanctity, though in a different way.
They lead humble, simple lives, performing their daily duties well and using the ordinary but abundant means of sanctity given by God to all Christians.
These means we too can use, and by them we can attain a high degree of holiness. Here is a good example of the ordinary saint.
THE TWO LADIES
The great St. Antony, the abbot who had spent long years in the desert, passing whole nights in prayer and performing severe penances, aware of how important the virtue of humility is in the spiritual life, asked God to make him profoundly humble.
In answer to his prayer, the Almighty directed him to visit two ladies in the neighboring city, who though simple and unpretentious in their manner of life, were, so God told Antony, holier than he who had spent long years in the practice of rigorous penance and unceasing prayer.
On entering their home, the Saint sought to discover the secret of such remarkable holiness; he asked them many questions as to the fasts they made, the length of their prayers, their austerities and the like, so that he might imitate them.
He was not a little surprised to learn that they did nothing exceptional. They observed the fasts of the Church; they said their prayers devoutly; they gave what little alms they could afford; they frequented the Sacraments, heard daily Mass and practiced the ordinary Christian virtues.
What impressed the Saint most was that they loved God very simply but very sincerely. God was the great reality in their lives. They did all their actions for love of Him. They performed their daily duties, seeing God in all they did.
They accepted what happened to them, joys as well as sorrows, as coming directly from His hand.
That was all, but it sufficed to explain to the Saint the secret of their wonderful sanctity, viz., they performed their duties well and they loved God. There are thousands of such hidden, ordinary saints in the Church now, as there have been at all times.
“Living to please others is a very real form of bondage. It enslaves and destroys. The only way to be liberated is to carry our crosses and submit to the shame of pleasing God over men. We must learn to love our Savior more than praise and approval, for only then will we be truly free.” – The Catholic Gentleman
A good sermon. A mother needs the gift of fortitude to inspire her children on the path to holiness!
Definitely a beautiful, yet challenging message for our times! “After presenting the richness of the Gospel message, more beautiful than any other world view, he explains how Gospel frugality is lived in each state of life.” (afflink)
“To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?
The renowned spiritual writer Dubay gives surprising replies to these questions. He explains how material things are like extensions of our persons and thus of our love. If everyone lived this love there would be no destitution.
After presenting the richness of the Gospel message, more beautiful than any other world view, he explains how Gospel frugality is lived in each state of life.”
I have prepared this Lenten journal to help you to keep on track. It is to assist you in keeping focused on making Lent a special time for your family. We do not have to do great things to influence those little people. No, we must do the small things in a great way…with love and consistency…
Timeless words from the pen of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen inspire the heart and imagination as readers embark on a Lenten journey toward a better understanding of their spiritual selves. Covering the traditional themes of Lent–sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope, ashes and lilies–these 50 passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.
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