The Saint of Everyday Life

Most everyone knows St.Teresa of Calcutta and her work with the poorest of the poor. But unless you’re Catholic, you might not know of another modern day saint named Josemaria Escriva. He was a Spanish priest who died in 1975 and he was recognized as a saint in 2002. He is called “the Saint of ordinary life.” He wrote extensively about living each moment in service and in holiness. He believed that every vocation in life was a path to sainthood and his writings are a challenge to each one of us to live our faith to the fullest. Because he lived in our time, he’s easy to read. One of his most famous quotes challenges me every day.  

“Don’t say: That person gets on my nerves. Think: That person sanctifies me.” Ouch. That really hit homes for me. It makes me look too closely at my own heart and my own sins. And it feels so much like something Jesus would have said. Of course, that’s how saints work. They think so little of themselves that our Lord can speak through them. This quote gets to the core of our relationship with other people and reminds me of something the Alabama nun, Mother Angelica once said: “If it wasn’t for people, we’d all be saints.” That one always makes me laugh, but it also reveals a great truth about our faith and our struggle to live it each day. Christianity exists in relationships. The Holy Trinity itself is a relationship. Our salvation is a relationship. We live out the Kingdom of God in our relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. Reading the Gospels, we see how much of Jesus’ time and teaching was spent in healing broken relationships.. How we accept and love other people is the fruit of our faith journey.  

And that’s why that quote from St. Josemaria really speaks to me. “Don’t say: That person gets on my nerves. Think: That person sanctifies me.” Rather than just getting annoyed by that tedious coworker or the teenager who never listens to you—we can use those moments as opportunities to grow in grace. Ask God to show you what part of yourself needs working on, as if the other person is a spotlight on your faults, pointing them out to us. How can I grow in humility? How can I let go of the times that person has hurt me? How can I use this moment to become more patient? Like we hear in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Our relationships with other people are opportunities to grow in grace and to become more like Christ. But like every other aspect of life, we have to invite Jesus in to show us the way and to reveal to us how He wants us to grow.  

Every time someone “gets on your nerves,” it’s the whisper of the Holy Spirit inviting us to grow in our faith. Rather than an emotional knee-jerk reaction to being irritated or angry, recognize the moment as a chance to practice a virtue that you need to grow. You can’t do this without the help of the Holy Spirit. So pray that the eyes of your heart will be opened to see that part of you that’s being “sharpened” by the other person. This prayer by Thomas Merton is one of my favorites:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: