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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 13, 2018
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

No need to be canonized

Rock & Refuge

We all can be and should be saints even if we are not canonized, that is, to be officially declared as saint by the Church after a long process of verifying the holy life of a person that definitely should show how heroic he lived his fidelity to his vocation and mission.

In fact, for the great majority of the saints, this is the case, because sanctity is not a matter of public knowledge but of being faithful to what God in the Holy Spirit is asking them to do at every moment.

Many times, this holiness is achieved not by being special in the world, like being a Pope, bishop or priest, or a hero like Rizal who was shot at the Luneta. It can be attained by anyone by simply doing the small little duties of everyday with great love for God and neighbor and with heroic consistency despite difficulties.

That is why I was happy to read the following words in the latest Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, “Gaudete et exsultate” (Rejoice and exult), which is about holiness in today’s world:

“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: ‘No, I will not speak badly of anyone.’ This is a step forward in holiness.

“Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to herabout his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sitsdown and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness.

“Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.” (16)

The Pope continued by saying that while we can be inspired by the lives of some holy people, we are not meant simply to be copycats, since in spite of similar aspirations and desires and of having the same particular spirituality, we all have different conditions and circumstances. Each one is unique, and his way to holiness is unique and peculiar to him.

In this regard, the new document says: “’Each in his or her own way,’ the Council says. We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us.

“The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf 1 Cor12,7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them.

“We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.” (11)

I believe that what is really important is that each one of us learns how to discern what the Holy Spirit is prompting to us to do at every moment and what he is showing us as our particular vocation and mission for our life.

That is why we need to learn to pray, to live always in the presence of God, to have recourse to some spiritual direction to better discern the things of God for us, etc., etc. These I believe are basic things that are common to all who aspire to be truly holy in today’s very complicated world.*

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