I was born into a devout Catholic household. My Catholic faith is currently the most important part of my life; it is the hub at which everything revolves around. I don’t have any great conversion story, nor intense enlightening experiences that led me to the Church, as many of the great saints do. I never really had to work and suffer through trials to find God in the Catholic faith. As an adolescent I often took my faith for granted as well as my relationship with Christ. I could have been capable of attaining this relationship if I had not been so blind. I struggled with embracing the magnitude of how beautiful it is to call the Catholic Church my home and family. I’m just an ordinary “Cradle Catholic.” Nothing special. Just another Catholic girl.
Growing up in a big family I constantly experienced the pressure of living up to other siblings. I’m smack dab in the middle of five. I wanted to be just as accomplished and scholarly as my oldest brother, yet physically strong and fit, like my other older brother. My little brother was the cute and funny one. My youngest sibling was the gentle, sensitive, and feminine one. I wanted to have something special about myself; something that made me unique. Instead I was constantly comparing myself to them. I often felt exhausted from trying to be like each one of them, yet I also wanted to find my own identity. I experienced a sense of mediocrity. When I was a young girl I would occasionally ask myself, “Who am I really?” or “Do I really have any gifts?”
I would tag along with my older brothers on their youth retreats. I went to Mass with my family every Sunday, and attended a Catholic grade school. I was involved in youth ministry. I learned the facts in religion class, and mastered the definitions of Eucharist, penance, love, mercy, baptism, gifts of the holy spirit, my body is a temple of the holy spirit, etc… I memorized material, earned desired grades, and acknowledged the truth that I was loved by an omnipotent God, and that I had to love him back.
As a high school student my identity started to grow, however, I still noticed something was missing. Although I had formed somewhat of a relationship with Christ, I continued to compare myself to everyone around me. I was known as “the good Catholic girl” in my public high school. Peers came to me to ask questions about the Church, and I gladly answered, thoroughly enjoying sharing this part of myself. Something was still missing. I looked at the people around me and saw them all merely breathing; they weren’t living. All these people, who I was constantly comparing myself to, were also missing something. I started asking myself, “Who are the people around me who are fully alive; who were truly living?”
This search revealed that the people who were constantly striving for holiness were truly living, not just breathing. They lived with purpose, conviction, peace, and contentment even though some of them were in the midst of great suffering. They didn’t have to love Jesus, they chose to! Once again, I started asking the question, “How can I be like them?”
The turning point in my relationship with Christ involved many factors, but one of the most significant sprouted from a simple conversation. I asked one of these holy people, “How can live more fully, like you?” He replied, “You need to be the Saint you were called to be.” I thought, “WHAT?! Me, a Saint?” That was never something I could ever have imagined myself becoming…. Ever... How could I be meant for Sainthood? I was just hoping, at the very least, I could squeeze my way into purgatory… After observing my surprised expression, he wisely said, “It’s true; you are a Catholic. You have been baptized; God has already called you.”
I don’t have some great conversion story, nor can I say that I’ve ever completely overcome my struggle of comparing myself to others…. I’ve just found a new path, a new way to channel this weakness towards discovering the great plans God has in store for me. Interestingly enough, rather than comparing myself to those around me, I am now striving to be more like…. dead people… but in all actuality, they are far more alive now than they ever were physically on Earth. Obviously, I refer to the Saints. This is the most daunting task I have ever placed upon myself. I often compare myself to Saints like John Paul II, St. Faustina, St. Theresa of Avila, and even the Mother of Christ herself, Mary. At times this can be overwhelming to just come close to their greatness.
In the midst of conquering the obstacles comes a peace, and I remember, God doesn’t want me to be a St. Faustina, or a St. Catherine of Sienna, or a St. Maximillian Kolbe; he wants me to be St. Maria. The best part is that St. Maria will be just enough for him. I have found my uniqueness and individuality flourish when I maintain this perspective. For the first time in my life I have felt a peace about God’s mission for me and I am finding my unique part to play in the body of Christ, our Church. All I desire now is to please Him; when I get preoccupied with my flaws, my tendency to compare myself to others, or the suffering I will have to endure, I say the words, “Fiat voluntas tua.” (Your will be done.) Whatever God wants for me, I want.
I now live with an eternal purpose. It was one thing for me to know God, but it’s another thing entirely to fall in love with Him. We are all meant to be citizens of the kingdom. You too are meant to be a Saint! The Saints were not perfect people; they were just people who acknowledged they were sinners. They never stopped striving for holiness.
To be a saint we must abandon our lukewarm lifestyles. We must go all in, and be not afraid of the plans God has for us, even if they involve great sufferings. I started to realize God was truly molding me into His saint when I noticed my desire for worldly pleasures decrease. My soul yearned for something deeper; this resulted in my true love and desire turning so ardently towards the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is my everything. Mary, my mother, also plays an imperative role towards my journey to heaven. I so intensely wish to be like her. She is my greatest saintly role model.
I now challenge you, just as I was challenged by my holy friend: Become the Saint you were meant to be. Do not accept a life of mediocrity when you were made for the greatness of the kingdom of heaven. Fall so deeply in love with Christ, not because you have to, but because you want to. Allow him to take you over. Don’t just breath. Start living. Be a Saint.
Your Sister in the Body of Christ.
Maria is a Buffalo born 19 year old girl striving for Sainthood. "I love people! I hope to become a Catholic Counselor for marriages, teen relationships, and to help women suffering from post abortive depression...".
She loves to read, attend daily mass, and eat Oreos. In her opinion, the best sports to compete in are soccer and basketball... Painting and oil pastels are pretty sweet too. Her greatest devotions are to the Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy!