TO BE A SAINT (LAST CHAPTER)

Fr Kingsley Idehen(14th October 2020) shared his experience from childhood. When he was still a child he always follow his grandad to the farm. There is a little hut where they rest, cook and eat after working. His grandad always come to the farm with his soap wrapped in leaves, when rain falls it fell on it and the sun shines on the leaves with the soap inside. After eating his grandad will remove the leaves and give it to him to use and wash the oily plates they used to eat. The leaves will become foamy and more like the soap. According to him this experience taught him that when we cling to anything or we are close to anything we become more like that thing. St Claire of Assisi once said “we become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing, imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means that we become vessels of God compassionate love for others ” Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. We become what we look up to.

Physicians help the sick,the rich help the poor and needy, those who are wise enlighten the folly,the strong ones strengthens the weak ones, the saintly sanctifies the lukewarm. Let us be charitable to our brothers and sisters by helping one another and serving each other. According to Friar Kingsley Nnanna “No virtue walks in isolation” we need each other. Don’t hesitate to help a straying soul…

TO BE A SAINT 7

A team of pilgrims was once travelling on horse drawn wagon and came to a stop where a huge Ox blocked the narrow path. The Ox lay at the middle of the road and in spite of all the efforts could not move him out of the way. The pilgrims lost their patience using severe means to move the Ox away. They whipped it with chords, threw stones at it and even poked it with sharp knives yet to no avail.
Finally a little boy jumped out from one of the wagon, ran to the path side and got a bundle of hay. Coming back to the Ox, he started feeding it with it. He took small steps backwards and the Ox got up and followed him gradually till the path was clear.
Joining them in the wagon the boy told the elders “IT IS LOVE, NOT RUDENESS THAT MOVES LIFE”

Love means many things to many people but the summarization of love is that it is the deepest feeling of a devoted, unconditional and stable affection for people and God. Love makes life liveable and pleasing, adding zest in the life of anyone it touches. To love is to deny oneself unconditionally and steadfastly for the sake of your beloved. That is thinking and living for your loved ones despite the pain and difficulties involved. For true love is not expressed in good times alone. It reveals itself authentically in action during difficult moments.

Jesus gave us an inspiring example of true love. His love for us compelled him to deny and sacrifice himself for our sake. It is on this background that we should build our love for one another.

Love that does not suffer or bear pains for the sake of the beloved is false and illusory.It is often easy for us to express our feelings to the people dear to us. But the question becomes difficult when we are asked “what have you endured for your loved ones?”how much have we sacrificed for each other? Love is all about making sacrifices. And it is the greatest commandment. According to St Mary Magdalene of pazzi” God rewards an action according to the amount of purity of intention with which they are done and if they are done for his glory.

LET LOVE LEAD

TO BE A SAINT 6

God in his infinite wisdom blessed man with numerous gifts to make heaven. We all are created in our own unique way with different gifts which if put to use we will seek perfection and make heaven. We must not be like a particular Saint or act like him or her to become a Saint. Remember that our gift differs. How can we seek perfection? We must first strive to know the will of God for us and strive to accept it and work for heaven despite all the challenges we will face. We follow and fulfill the commandment of faith and love with a “fools mentality”

Our prayers opens heaven but only faith does the work. Faith is necessary in the life of everyone. However, it remains meaningless and futile when it is not practical. We have to live by what we believe and what we say saying with our lord “by their fruits you shall know them”

God gives strength to those who declare they are foolish, he also bless them with wisdom but leaves those who claim to be wise and live according to their will to suffer. It is because of this that St Alphonsus de Liguori said, “in the journey of eternity, those who renounce their will and declare their foolishness wins God’s favor more easily than those who anchoring on their own will claim to be wise for God comes to bless and revive the weak and foolish, but the strong and the weak he lives on their own accord.

True sanctity does not entail mighty for we look for God in little things and for st Theresa, sanctity entails the ‘Little Way” which can be referred to as “Foolish Way” therefore, it is only by being foolish that we can be wise, for it is only the foolish that yearns for and obtains wisdom. Hence, he that seeks sanctity with wisdom fails woefully, ending up being foolish.

TO BE A SAINT 5

There are three important passions one have to mortify according to Fr Aaron Ekwu, they are lust, pride and anger.

According to bro Giles, one of the seven companions of St Francis of Assisi “the devil knight resists and fights against all those things which are pleasing to God and profitable for our salvation. We mortify ourselves from lust by disciplining ourselves, our thoughts and what we see. Fr Aaron Ekwu observed that pride is a general problem which no man should wisely claim he has not. We shun pride by learning to be humble. We can practice the act of humility by seeing ourselves and putting our authority, wisdom, beauty, knowledge and wealth under others. It is also an act of humility if we could avoid the temptation to speak about ourselves as either good or bad because most times it creates opportunity for people to praise us when we decide not to speak good of us. Humility now becomes pride. Learning to accept corrections gently and appreciatively is a good approach to humility.

Fr Aaron once said that “anger tests the strength of a man “. Anger can be mortified by being patient, not reacting violently to things that come to us, the pains we experience are not signs of hatred from God but of love, because God didn’t even spare his only son from suffering and sorrow.

A man once approached St Alphonsus de Liguori and told him “father, I want to be transformed but I do not know what to do,” but what do you do now that you are not transformed? “asked the priest,” I do anything i like, live as it pleases me, neglect prayers and live carelessly about eternity “answered the man.” Now do the same the other way round, start by doing what you don’t like, live as it displeases you, be very conscious of prayers always and live carefully about eternity and you will be transformed.

If you want to progress in your spiritual life you must be ready to make sacrifices. We have to put off our old self and put on a new self by confessing our sins and cutting off our affections to sin.

Confession is very vital in the life of everyone, going for confession is like a sick person going to see the lord as the doctor, you tell him when your sickness started, how it started, how long the sickness has been tormenting you. He will give you the cure. It is very important for us to remember that true confession starts from within. According to Friar Kingsley Nnanna “going for confession is the easiest way to seek perfection, the devil will always try to push us to be secretive about our sins knowing that we easily get rid of our fault by confessing them” confession helps us to gradually grow to avoid sin and uproot sinful tendencies. If you see going to confession as an obligation you have to carry out to please other or to fulfill all righteousness, then you are at the wrong side of your relationship with God.

TO BE A SAINT 4

Bro Elias one of the seven companions of St Francis of Assisi once went and asked him “father, why is it that in the world some people have greater ability to grow in holiness than others? Go and get two kettles said St Francis,” fill the first with water to the brim, put only a little water in the second kettle, then place both of them on the fire, Elias did as he was told. They sat and watched the kettle, after a while they noticed that the water in the second kettle was boiling and St Francis said, “the water in the second kettle is boiling when the water in the first has not got warm. Because there is very little water in it. So also it is with holiness. Those whose hearts are not filled with many worldly things have the ability to grow in holiness than others.

By withdrawing ourselves from earthly things our soul attain humility, quietness, loneliness and simplicity. King Solomon said in Eccl “Wisdom is found in the state of loneliness and he that diminishes external employment shall attain unto her.” we cannot feel God in a noisy place,. God is sought away from noise and distractions.

Without peace of mind a soul can never make progress in its spiritual life. Peace of mind means controlling oneself from grief, fear, list, despair, pleasures, ambitions and anger. Is it possible for wood not to burn when thrown to fire? Is it possible for a man to walk under the sun without the sun shining on him? And so it is for those who expose themselves to occasion of sin thinking they will not fall. We must learn to walk away from things, places, relationships and people that could lead us to sin and say with the saints “let all be lost, provided God is not lost”

We have to mortify these five senses that most need to be mortified. The eyes, tongue, ear, appetite and flesh. St Alphonsus de Linguori said that”the first arrow that wounds the soul and which often kills it enters through the eyes. Unless we mortify our eyes, denying it of the opportunity to see immoral images, our spirituality is yet unsound, poor and tepid. We mortify our tongue by not engaging in discussions that won’t help us and saying abusive words. The ear have to be mortified by refraining from meaningless and impure conversations. We mortify our appetite by controlling the way we eat. St Theresa of Avila cried out “Alas, how foolish is he who knows really what pigs are, washes them, rubs costly pomades on them, puts on costly clothes on them and afterwards see those pigs on dirts and feaces despite the great care taken to keep them clean. The most aspect of man that requires to be beautified is the spirit.

To be continued…………

TO BE A SAINT 3

A Saint is not a wise person. Rather one who makes himself a “fool” for the love of God and salvation of his soul. One who makes himself a servant of others, one who lives a life of detachment, simple quiet and little like a child.

Saints had no extraordinary thing to their existence. They were just ordinary like you and i, but we must remember that the road to heaven is very long and tedious. The question is how can a firm resolution be taken? It can be through a life of prayer and spiritual poverty, detaching ourselves from worldly things and following the gospel with a fools mentality St Francis of Assisi focused on the spiritual poverty rather than the material poverty. This does not mean that created things such as money should be held in contempt. They are not the problem because they are used to live both physical and spiritual life. The problem arises not from what we have, but from our relationship with created things especially when we take them as an integral part of our life.

We can live a life of spiritual poverty by simplicity of life, abstraction of life or solitude, silence, peace of mind and avoidance of sin. We have to be simple in thought, words and actions towards God. The detached in soul are not self seeking which makes them forsake or keep them in the center of their lives, those things which men consider valuable in the world marriage, procreation, money, material possessions, education, work, pleasure and honor. St John Chrystostom said that “a life detachment, poverty and mortification not only sanctifies one’s soul but also gives one a sure promise of obtaining the kingdom of God”

To be continued………

TO BE A SAINT 2

Being a Saint requires that we gain spiritual knowledge without it we will end up in our spiritual life achieving nothing. To acquire spiritual knowledge we have to listen to the words of our conscience. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man,according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the sanctuary of a man. Since the devil also speaks to us through our conscience, how can we actually know the direction of our conscience? Once we surrender ourselves in confidence to God, God begins a work of edification in us directing and leading us forth in our spiritual life. It is for this that king David said in the scripture “the light of your countenance, O lord, is like a seal stamped on our souls” and when God has taken control of our life and lighten it, it raises and blows into a flame. That grace which before in our heart were like coals of fire smothered in the ashes is rekindled towards a new life manifesting virtue or righteousness till gradually the principal of our corrupt nature is subdued and God takes control of our life.

The kinds of friends we have, the book we read, the place we live, the family we belong to and the things that surround us have great influence on our spiritual life. This is because man is dynamic in his behavior, weak and easily influenced by his environment. The things we do should always help us to attain our spiritual goal. Observe some quiet time. In the words of St Thomas a Kemps “in silence and solitude a devout soul makes progress and learn”

Belonging to a pious society will help us to follow a rule for perfection. Meditate and examine your life. What do people say about you? then try to improve or correct yourself depending on what is said of us. Devotion to Mary is the surest and easiest way of reaching union with God more than a thousand years following lesser devotions.

According to St John of the cross “A virtuous soul that is alone and without a master is like a lone burning coal. It will grow colder rather than hotter, we need the help of a spiritual director who will devote him or herself towards the progress of our spiritual life.

To be continued…….

TO BE A SAINT 1

St Thomas Aquinas (1220-1272)once came into a classroom, got three students and asked, Who is a Saint? The first answered “A Saint is a person who avoids evil and does good” st Thomas smiled and said “you are not far from the kingdom of God” the second answered “A Saint is a person who lives his life for the glory of God and salvation of his soul” st Thomas observed a few minutes silence and said gently “you will become a Saint the third answered” A Saint is a person of faith in whose heart is burning the real flame of love for God and his neighbor in his area of life. Who prays for the will of God to be done and accepts it when it comes without minding the difficulties with which it usually comes with “hearing this St Thomas smiled and said” แปŒ Teacher, teach me more “

The third answer touched the manspring of all sanctity “faith, love and humble acceptance of the will of God in all conditions of one’s life”. This remains the only criteria we will be judged or said to be a Saint. Of what use is it if we don’t live the life for which we are created for. To ascend into a celestial life a Christian will pass through different stages “Righteousness, holiness and perfection”. The stage of righteousness is achieved when one is baptized and we follow the teaching of Christ but with reluctance. That is when we strive for holiness. We achieve perfection when we perfect our holiness by living in union with the doctrine of faith and love in good and bad times, so that we become a fool and summit to God, detaching from the things we want and like, to perfect ourselves some degree of mortification and detachment is needed on top of our good works to crown it.” He who wants to be my follower must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”

Blessed Michael iwene Tansi once shared his experience saying that the work of self denial, voluntary poverty, detachment and mortification is of the greatest importance in life because it is almost the decesive point that decide triumph in the war of sanctity.

To be continued…….

A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

A JOURNEY WITH A PURPOSE (WHAT AM I HERE FOR?)
Focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose.The easiest
way to know the purpose of an invention is to ask the inventor.Clarify
your values.Set some goals.Figure out what you are good at.Aim high.
Go for it.Be disciplined.Believe you can achieve your goals.Never give
up.Ofcourse these recommendations often lead to great success.You
can usually succeed in reaching your goal if you put your mind to it but
being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same
issue..

You can reach all your personal goals,become a raving success by
the world’s standard and still miss the purpose for which God created you.
You need more than self advice .
Your life is no fluke of nature.Your parents might not have planned your
but God did.Each and everyone of us is created for a particular purpose.
That’s why it’s normally a waste of time trying to copy another person
pattern of life.We are unique for whatever we do.

THE FALL OF A MAN ON A MOUNTAIN

We all are striving to be the best, to reach the peak of our educational, social and religious life. No one wants to remain stagnant and watch others walk past him. The important thing is that once you determine on something, persevere, because a lot of people will take you as their role model. They will look up to you to get to that point you have reached. He that is doing good should keep doing good.

When the mighty falls. He doesn’t fall alone, most times the people looking up to you will get discouraged some might give up and the fallen man might loose the courage to begin again.

Our life here on earth is a choice. No one will live your life for you. We are the architect of our dreams. We live according to how we plan our lives.

Of course we don’t expect it to be a smooth journey. Many things will come by disappointment, failure, but remember that every successful man have a story to tell. One day when you get to the peak you will look down and see others struggling to get through all that you passed through, you will then understand that those struggles are meant to make you fit and prepared to face the future

LOVE

Love means many things to many people but the summarization of love is that it is the deepest feeling of a devoted, unconditional and stable affection for people and God. Love makes life liveable and pleasing, adding zest in the life of anyone it touches. To love is to deny oneself unconditionally and steadfastly for the sake of your beloved. That is thinking and living for your loved ones despite the pain and difficulties involved. For true love is not expressed in good times alone. It reveals itself authentically in action during difficult moments.

Jesu gave us an inspiring example of true love love when his love for us compelled him to deny and sacrifice himself for our sake. It is on this background that we should build our love for one another. Love that does not suffer or bear pains for the sake of the beloved is false and illusory.

It is often easy for us to express our feelings to the people dear to us. But the pro arises when we are asked “what have you endured for your loved ones?”

Love is all about making sacrifices. And it is the greatest commandment.

LET LOVE LEAD

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION.

We can recall the biblical story of how Jesus visited Mary and Martha. Mary sat at the foot of Jesus listening to him while Martha was running around trying to make something for the guest and also make him comfortable.

But what did Mary do? She sat there just listening. You can imagine how Martha felt because Mary is not assisting her. When she complained Jesus said to her “Martha you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.

We are all unique, whether you are the Mary or Martha, both women are valuable.

However, our priorities matter, we don’t have to react to certain things or certain conditions, sometimes we have to listen and think before we react.

This experience taught me a great lesson “I attended a meeting, at a point everyone was arguing about a particular project but a young lady kept calm at the whole scene. After a while, she stood up to give her own suggestion. Everyone kept quiet, everywhere was calm. I was really marveled. I realized one thing, when you listen you gain more ideas, everywhere was quiet because everyone wants to listen to her. And that is what happens when we listen everyone will want to listen to you.

THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE EARLY WORM

In order to seize certain opportunities, arriving first can result to higher chances of success. Punctuality is very vital in all aspects of our lives. But since the bird and the worm were early, why is the fate of one different? The bird came up early striving towards getting a meal for the day and the early worm falls victim.

Are you the bird or the worm? Waking up early, being the first to grab opportunities, making the first move helps us to strive towards being successful. But few things are still needed. Our determination, perseverance and hard work helps to fuel our efforts.

If you do not wah to end up with an ill fate…..choose wisely.. BE THE EARLY BIRD.

TO LIVE

When you rise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive,to breathe, to think,to enjoy,to love.Life throws us at different struggles and situations .

To be able to breathe is not what it takes to be alive being alive means to live without reasons that make you unhappy . In other
words,it means to be living completely you’re stand not being pulled down the stereotypical norms or not
caring what others think(to some extent).

To exist is the emergence of man in the world. It refers to the act of actually there and being alive. It has to do with our physical self. When we keep living, conquering the challenges life throws to us and solving the problems that face us, that’s called Surviving. Life and living is the very definition of survival. To survive means to emerge, to shed, to transform, to blossom ๐ŸŒธ, to change, to improve and to love.

Existing and surviving requires living. It is only someone that has life that can exist and it is only a person that exist that can live and survive.

TREASURES ARE HIDDEN IN BOOKS

In every aspect of your life. Be it spiritual,educational, social business, living a good life as an individual or a family. The habit of reading seems to be challenging. Why?

Forming the habit of reading tends to be challenging. But remember that nothing good comes easy. When you do what you want, you will not get tired of doing it but when you do what you need, it posses a big challenge and you find it hard to continue.

Being ignorant of things is a primary weapon of containment. We live in an information age. There are numerous books readily available at Borders, Bornes and noble Amazon, not to mention bookstores that provide solid blueprint to reach economic equality but people refuse to read.

You can’t expect to cultivate the habit in a day or two, it requires constant practice and once you are able to maintain that practice. It becomes part of you. Read not just to grab everything but make sure you learnt something from a particular book you read.

LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN