The saints are not perfect; they are holy. There is a big difference.
Human beings can’t be perfect. But they can be good. None of the great saints are perfect. If we look at the apostles as they are presented in the gospels they are neither perfect nor do they show any signs of so being.
Human beings always have their faults and limitations and these cannot be done away with. This does not mean that it is ok to do evil things but it does mean that we will find unsavory attitudes and feelings within us all the days of our lives. They will be there whether we like it or not. And they are there without us putting them there. We don’t put them there but we can accede to them and in doing so commit sin. This is true of the great saints as it is true of each of us.
To think that we can be rid of such things – little as they may seem at times – will mean that we will never have peace! Such thoughts lead easily to scrupulosity. We need to learn to laugh at our continuing sinfulness and entrust ourselves into the forgiving hands of God.
Saints are people with whom God is in touch and so being a saint is open to all of us. But we are in touch with God precisely as we are – with the past that has shaped us, in our present relationships, with all our good points and advantages as well as with our not so good points and limitations.
Being in touch with God always begins with us as we are and seeks to lead us into a deeper relationship with God which makes us aware of the way we see things and of what needs to change in us.
Being in touch with God and the effects it has on us is not just a matter of some moments in our lives but of a lifetime’s journey. We will be on this journey until the day we are fully with the Lord.
In being in touch with the Lord something of his holiness begins to rub off on us and to change us.
This being in touch is something we have to open ourselves up to. Just as we can’t be in touch with other people unless we give them time, so we can’t be in touch with God unless we give God time. This being in touch is his gift but it is a gift which has to be received and so to speak unwrapped. There is no other way to receive that gift than by the return-gift of time. Time, if we think about it, is the most fundamental way in which we give ourselves.
Prayer is therefore essential. We need to find both the time for prayer that really does work for us and the way of praying that is effective for us. (And the Scriptures play a very important part in this process. But maybe that is a topic for another time).
Fr Frank O’Loughlin