‘Live and Let Live’- The Way to Holiness

“Holiness is one of the most beautiful gifts a human heart can offer to God.” – Mother Teresa. We know well that life is a precious gift of God to all of us and what we make out of our lives is our gift to God in return. I was told that in the culture of the United States as also of India, when you go to visit a family, never go with an empty hand. I wonder what gift we need to carry when we go to our eternal home (heaven) to our Father. We know well that we cannot carry anything but our pure soul and the good things we did here on earth. We fatigue a lot to earn so many things just to leave them to others as the proverb says “When he dies he will carry nothing away” (49;17). Each one must now reflect what gift we will be carrying to our Father once we are done with our pilgrimage here on earth. What good do we possess or cultivate? Humility? Forgiveness? Patience? Love? Charity? Kindness? Sharing with the needy? Endurance in suffering? What is the gift that I will present to God?
We begin this month remembering and honoring our ancestors who lived before us and returned to the Father. November 1st, we honor All Saints and November 2nd, we commemorate All the Faithful Departed. St. Bernard says the lives of the saints assure us that holiness is possible, they teach us by their lives and their writing how to serve God, and they can intercede for us when we need God’s help. Honoring the saints and millions of others who have tried to live a good and holy life, including those who have fallen along the way, but who have gotten up and kept on going. Saints are people who lived their lives according to the design of God and helped others also live their lives well. When we live our life fully and help others as to live well, then we become holy ones in the eyes of God.
Live: Whether we know it or not, we all have a vision for our lives. We all have a philosophy that sets out how we want to live and what we want to accomplish. It’s this vision that guides many of our decisions and actions. At the heart of our vision is the desire to do what makes us happy. As we mature, our vision gets refined and sharpened. It also becomes increasingly selfless. Our life is not just made of what this world has to offer us. Remember that we are the children of God and that heaven is our true home. We need to tell ourselves that we are more than our job, our skills, our wealth or education. We are precious to God and He delights in us. This is the call to live our life fully, meaningfully and joyfully.
Let Live: As we journey on earth God is asking us to love our neighbor as a commandment. God asks us to take the risk for the sake of His people. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella, and Mother Theresa didn’t try to solve all of the world’s problems: they simply lived their life in radical service and love of their neighbor. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike saw in them a role model. They invite us to let others live with a simple program of life, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. At the end of life, we are going to be judged on the basis of our love for one another.” Fr. Guanella invites his followers to attain holiness with this simple program of life, “in doing our daily duties with love, we embrace holiness.” I would like to quote a passage from The Imitation of Christ. “How many people will remember you and pray for you once you are dead? So do all you can now, for you do not know when you will die or what you will face after death. Gain merit for eternity now while there is time and concern yourself only with your eternal salvation.” (Ch. 23; 8).


Champions of Charity: St. Louis Guanella and St. Teresa of Calcutta

In a very remarkable event, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, canonized Mother Teresa (St.Teresa of Calcutta) during this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. There are many similarities between the two saints of charity. “It is God who works”-our founder had an unshakable faith in Divine Providence. “Carrier of God’s tender and merciful love” – this is a theme for the canonization of Mother Teresa. She totally abandoned herself by saying, “I am a little pencil in God’s hand- that is, He does all of the thinking and He does the writing.” Father Guanella said, “abandon yourself confidently in the loving arms of Providence, because we are chicks under the wings of Divine Providence. I do not move a hand or take a step without being sure that God is explicitly calling me.”
Father Guanella founded the “Servants of Charity” and Mother Teresa the “Missionaries of Charity.” Charity is the foundation for both toward brothers and sisters in difficulty and in crises of any kind: spiritual, moral, emotional or material. They discovered the pearl of dignity in every disabled and marginalized person- that of being a child of God.“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Both cherished in their hearts this Gospel passage and gave life to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
For Father Guanella, “The Eucharist is the treasury of God’s love and life of the institute, a day without Holy Communion is like a day without the sun.”
“The Mass is the spiritual food that sustains me without which I could not get through one single day or hour in my life,” Mother Teresa said and confirmed that His presence was the reason for her work.
Regarding holiness, our founder said, “Personal Holiness lived in joy produces peace and souls dedicated to God are purified through suffering so as to be holy and to make others holy.” For Mother Teresa, “Holiness is not the privilege of the few but the need for all. Holiness means carrying out God’s will with joy and faithfulness and it forges saints.”
In both of their lives, they faced countless hardships, suffering, and enormous criticism but actually opposition only served to strengthen their dependence on God and reach monumental achievements in favor of the least in society.
Let us praise and thank God for the gift of the Modern Apostles of Charity as the Church canonizes Mother Teresa and has already recognized our founder. Following their inspiration and the fire of charity we can rekindle our Religious life.“We are not called to be successful, but faithful”- Mother Teresa

Fr. Soosai Rathinam