“Come follow me with a spring in your step and a song in your heart!”
How blessed the saints who are now at rest from all their labours! As I pondered their blessedness during mass yesterday, I felt God say to me, “Your turn will come too, but not yet. You must first walk the same path that they had walked, and witness to the same faith as they had.”
As I knelt in prayer after receiving Christ in the Eucharist, I had the sense of St Anthony of Padua and St Catherine of Siena praying for me on my left and on my right. Then St Francis of Assisi was in front of me, and St Ignatius of Loyola behind me. There was a sense of kinship as I felt their prayers surround me. “Why these saints?” I wondered. I did not understand and yet, it felt right.
Then I realised: St Anthony and St Catherine were fiery communicators of God’s truth. Through their preaching and writing, they converted many hearts to God. I felt God whisper to me, “I created you to do the same.” I almost laughed! There was a time when I did not trust myself to speak or write for I felt it was much better to be silent than to say or write things that were not of God. Yet nobody can deny that even from my youngest years, I was created to communicate. I had realised in the last year that rather than wish that I was different from who God created me to be, I should be praying that God purify me so that I can serve his purpose with a true and steadfast heart. If God created me to communicate, then let me be an arrow carrying His love and truth, and let me fly straight and true into the hearts of all He sends me to!
St Ignatius was a master in the spiritual life. He had the gift of helping others grow in their relationship with God and he had a special sensitivity to the way God worked in his life and in the lives of others. I have known for some time now that a big part of my mission is in building and equipping apostles for the Lord’s vineyard. How wonderful then, to have St Ignatius be a patron and intercessor in my vocation!
As for St Francis, he is one of my favourite saints and it seems somehow that he constantly appears in my life. He was key to my first conversion at 15, and it was in a Franciscan parish that I experienced my second conversion and was called to full-time lay ecclesial ministry. Outwardly, there does not seem to be much similarity between the saintly Joyful Beggar and I. That is, until it struck me that St Francis always radiated joy. He will be the one to guide me on the way to realising perfect joy in my life – the joy that comes from dying to self completely.
The journey ahead of me is still long and I am only too aware of my weakness. But these saints were sinners too, and their journeys were also marked by struggles and failures. “Courage! Be of good hope!” They seem to be saying to me, “For it was not by our strength but by God’s grace that we attained glory.”