...His life was most austere, and he was so dead to himself as to seem incapable of betraying the least emotion of anger. His countenance was always cheerful; yet he never laughed...At first I thought to myself that I could do that with a little effort. Then I returned to reality.
Now, Mother Angelica's thoughts on the saints is something I can relate to:
When I was a young nun, I used to read the lives of the saints, hoping to find someone like me. Someone who had to eat six times a day and get nine hours of sleep. Someone who was not robust enough o make all the sacrifices that the 'ordinary' saint seemed able to make. I read about saints who had spent entire nights in payer and gone days without food. The more I looked, the more discouraged I became, realizing that holiness must be for the elite...
...The women were wide-eyed and graceful, while the men were gentle and handsome. There were no fat statues, no saints with big noses. None of the saints were frowning, and none looked tired...
...Before long, I was fed up. I wished then, and I wish now, that the biographers of the saints would go to Purgatory for forty years. They made the saints unrealistic. They made them perfect. Always kind. Always patient. Always able to resist temptation.
What the biographers failed to note was that the majority of saints were ordinary people who struggled with temptations, sin, frailties, and weaknesses. Just like you and me.
Take the Apostles, for example:
The men that Jesus chose to teach and to follow Him and to inspire others to follow Him were extremely imperfect. (Did you know that there is no account in Scripture of the Apostles ever catching any fish on their own?)
-They were jealous at times.
-They had temper tantrums,
-they became obsessively depressed and fearful in times of trial.
-They ran in times of crisis,
-and they became proud of their status of being in the 'in' group.
-They weren't too bright either, inasmuch as the meaning of a simple parable like the sower and the seed completely escaped them-so much so that they were forced to ask Jesus to explain it to them late at night. A parable that we consider within the intelligence of any fifth grader today was not comprehended by the men Jesus chose to be the leaders of His new Church.
Reading about the Apostles gave me a lot of courage. I could see that they didn't start out being perfect. It became clear to me that saints are not born but made...
For when we ask 'What does God want with me?'...The answer is that God wants us to become saints.
God gave you and me everything we need to become saints:
-the strengths and
-the happiness and
-the flaws and
-the ability to overcome them in absolutely heroic ways...
God wants you to be a saint!
Mother Angelica's Answers Not Promises, by Mother M. Angelica with Christine Allison