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The Road to Sanctity


December 24, 2019

Catholics from an early age are taught the purpose of this life is to hopefully one day be in Heaven with the Blessed Trinity and the angels and saints.

The journey down this road began for most Catholics when they were baptized as new-born infants. It is here that the child is the recipient for the first time of sacramental grace. A grace, which although he is not aware of it at the time, allows him the opportunity to one day enjoy the Beatific Vision.

If the parents of this child are truly concerned with his salvation, the education will begin before he reaches the age of reason. Simple prayers should be taught to give him an early knowledge of God and prayer. The importance of these early lessons cannot be overstated. It is the foundation of the faith of this young Catholic. There is a message which is conveyed to the child, i.e., “these prayers and ideas which I am being taught are more important than anything else which my parents are teaching me now.”

The early catechism lessons will continue to strengthen the spiritual foundation if they are conveyed with sincere devotion. Too many parents fail to spend the time with their child and reinforce the ideas he is taught in his religion class.

It is vital to the child that the parents pray with him each day. This holy example will pay great spiritual dividends in the years to follow. Prayer ought to come easy for the Catholic. It is perhaps the primary example of zeal and fervor within the soul. If parents display indifference to prayer, the child will also be indifferent. If the child is generally indifferent to prayer, he will be indifferent to the Catholic Faith. Overcoming this indifference is possible, but how often does it really occur?

If parents are serious about raising their child to be a saint, they must establish a Catholic environment in the home even if it means making a number of big changes. The problem one has today is, the parents do not know what they do not know. Yes, they are ignorant to the point of not knowing how wrong they may be and the changes which need to be made. The other possibility is they simply choose not to do those things which they should. This, of course, displays a higher degree of culpability.

It is commonly agreed that the education of the child is greatly determined by the age of twelve. The most important classes which form the academic foundation are taught in elementary school. Why should it be any different with the catechetical and religion courses? Too often parents place a greater importance on academic education rather than faith and morals. One has witnessed children spending many hours learning math, science, English, etc., but spend a minimum amount of time on their catechism. Understand the message which is being given to the child.

Academics have their place in education, but the religious education of the child should not be a second tier consideration. The education and nurturing of the soul should always be the top priority.

Instilling the love of the Faith in the child is actually more important than having a perfect knowledge of it. Love will make it possible to save one’s soul rather than the intellect, and yes, the intellect is important, also.

Alongside the love and knowledge of the Faith is the desire to practice supernatural virtue. The child generally begins to do this when he is good. When this goodness becomes a habit a virtue has been established. Elevating this natural virtue to one which is supernatural, and therefore, meritorious, makes it possible to become holy in such a manner so as to truly become a saint.

Teaching a child to be good for the love of God, and therefore, establishing a solid foundation for goodness is supernaturally priceless. It makes it possible for the child to grow into an adult who understands the need to be virtuous and on the road to sanctity. The road to sanctity and being able to persevere brings with it a multitude of struggles and crosses.

The temptations of the world and the devils are always going to be present. One must understand in some manner what is taking place at the time these temptations occur. Far too many are oblivious to the spiritual battles which take place and fall into ongoing spiritual traps. This is why it is so important to always avoid the occasion of sin, especially regarding mortal sin. Another downfall for so many is choosing a job or lifestyle which probably will lead to ongoing serious occasions of sin. Excessive wealth, fame, power or influence of the corruptive nature would be the most common examples.

How often will you find anyone, especially Catholics who will purposely choose a job or lifestyle for the specific purpose of avoiding serious occasions of sins? How often will you find someone who has their salvation in mind when making these types of decisions? Who is willing to live a “quiet life” instead of a worldly public life?

Yes, it is true that some are called to live a public life. There have been saints in these positions, such as St. Thomas More and St. Joan of Arc. These saints were blessed with the graces to remain faithful. Not all should assume they will be blessed in a similar manner. It is probably safe to say that most people should assume they are not called to live a public life. The purpose of this life is to get to Heaven. One should do all within his power to accomplish this eternal goal.

The Hidden Life of the Holy Family is the best and first example for the average Catholic. Display a willingness to live a quiet, holy life unknown to the world. Parents ought to be focused on living a Catholic life, raising their children to be saintly Catholics and striving to always be a good example for your children.

Children should attend Mass and receive the Sacraments regularly, be obedient and respectful to your parents and approved guardians, learn your catechism well and have a true desire to be good. One should also be conscientious about your schoolwork and chores, as well as any other responsibilities you are given.

Being serious about sanctity requires effort, often heroic effort. Our Lord does make this possible contrary to the opinions of many. One simply needs to be attentive to the graces which you are given and have the desire to make use of them.

If parents first learn the necessity of living life according to the Holy Will of God, and then teach this to their children, they will have formed a proper and good foundation for themselves and their children. This is how good Catholic parents are able to put themselves and their children on the road to sanctity.

Fr. Joseph Noonan, OFM