Refrigerators and sanctity

There are many paths to holiness, and they all lead to God. Many paths are studded with heroic and miraculous deeds, but most of them, especially for that ‘immense multitude’ who do not end up remembered on the calendar, are through everyday, ordinary life, through simple yet common (but equally effective) gestures on the path to sanctification.

To quote Costanza Miriano, “each of us is called upon to fight in the trench metre entrusted to us“, we want to reflect in this post on becoming saints in daily life, one of the many metres of trench we have been entrusted with and asked to hold, whatever the cost.

We can all recognise ourselves in the description the Russian Pilgrim makes of himself at the beginning of his book: ‘By the grace of God I am a man and a Christian, by actions a great sinner’. And we may all be tempted to seek our holiness by making great sacrifices, founding religious orders or performing other actions out of the ordinary. But for many of us, that is not the way. Our path on the road to holiness passes through the everyday, through walking every day trying to keep to the direction that God shows us and, above all, in ‘making ourselves holy with what is there’. This last sentence is the title of a book by Don Luigi Maria Epicoco, published by Tau Editrice, from which we have taken this reflection.

A good cook is not someone who knows how to prepare delicious and sophisticated banquets. A good cook is one who knows how to prepare a good meal with what is in the fridge.

Likewise, a saint is not one who succeeds in impossible works, such as levitating or having infused science, but one who does the will of our Father who is in heaven. And this will, we are taught by legions of saints, is done with the cards God has given us, with the talents he has made available to us, in the metre of trenches he has entrusted to us. And let us remember, that metre, often muddy or bristling with stones, was entrusted to us to guard and defend, and to flee to other positions, perhaps more coveted, more heroic or more alluring, would be nothing but a betrayal of the order received.

When we speak of holiness, we speak of a ‘vocation’ to holiness. And when we try to respond to this vocation, we often try to do so on our own terms. We forget, that is, that the conditions in which we must become holy are those in which God has made us.

Just as it would be nice if our trench metre was grassy, in an area with a mild climate, so it would be nice to make ourselves saints by having plenty of time to pray and meditate, infinite providence to do good and be followed and understood by so many people converted by us. But this is not the path to holiness for most people. For those of us in this crowd, the path to holiness also passes through a spouse who leaves you alone, children who drive you crazy, neighbours who think you are crazy or, worse, stupid.

In this way of holiness grafted onto real life, not daydreams, we must open the refrigerator God has given us and cook with what is there. And so many times it seems impossible to make something that vaguely resembles a meal with such few and such shabby ingredients. Then comes despair, then comes the temptation to make oneself holy in some other way or even to give up this quest for holiness.

God, who writes straight on crooked lines like us, is nevertheless close to us and continually gives us everything we need. Because the analogy with our kitchen fridge is too simple: God’s fridge is always full of many things. Not necessarily the ones we would like, no, that one almost never. But there is certainly everything you need to prepare a meal that is perfect for the moment and the context in which you live.

But we often stay looking at the closed refrigerator, we do not open it, or if we do open it we look for what we would like, not what God wants.

Evil does not enter our lives by making us err, that is, by causing us to sin, no, that is only the consequence of a greater error: to stop looking to God and turn our gaze elsewhere.

The word ‘conversion’ means precisely this change of mentality that brings our gaze back to God. Then we can resume our journey in the right direction.

The first big step we have to take to become saints is not to be impressed by grand discourses on holiness when they are disconnected from our real lives. Non dobbiamo restare delusi se, quando apriamo il frigo, dentro non c’è quello che volevamo noi.We should not be disappointed if, when we open the fridge, there is not what we wanted inside. The saints were never those who had all the right ingredients but those who knew how to be creative with what was there at the time and place.

This does not mean that one should not be confronted with great ideals and heroic deeds. It means that we must first be reconciled with ourselves and understand that what God has given us is perfect for preparing the dinner He wants from us. Secondly, it is necessary to look to Him, constantly, to understand what He wants us to do, in our trench metre.

This is the logical consequence of the mystery of the incarnation, which tells us that the meaning of our life is not elsewhere, is not beyond, is not at the end of our human experience. The meaning of our life is here and now.

Holiness therefore means living the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity every day in one’s own reality. On which we have based our vision of community. Because we believe it is an important path to our holiness.

Here and now.

Luca Lezzerini

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Credits: Photo by Jorge Torres on Unsplash

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