Amidst their other literary interests, our children invariably return to their various saint books and Glory Stories CD’s (etc.). Of course, we’re delighted. More and more often I see in them glimmers of virtue that put me to shame. Sports’ metaphors work in our home: while they all get that our playing field is about sainthood, our 7 year old Grace of late has her eyes fixed on the Finish (yes, this is the same “Amazing Grace” who framed her Dad for his bad words in the Chernobyl Diaper story in CatholicLane).
While my wife is making supper, Gracie pulls up. Steph inquires, “So Grace, how’s the saint-thing going?” In her dramatic, exasperated tone, Grace’s eyes twinkle: “[Exhale] I discovered ONE thing. To become a Saint… it’s way, way, WAY more than just being very, very, VERY good. You have to do things that you REALLY DON’T want to do!”
With images of things like simply keeping her room clean, Steph inquires, “Like what?”
Grace: “One example is, Catherine wanted to borrow my VERY SPECIAL, blue nail polish, and NOTHING in me… AT ALL… wanted to let her! But I stopped… and smiled… and said, ‘Sure’. THAT was hard!”
Oh, if only I could have the same wiring with regard to the “blue nail polishes” of my life! To take seriously this saint-making “game” that so defines our mission and purpose on this planet! Let it be!
And suddenly I was struck by awareness of my ordinary circumstances… situated in a MASSIVE arena, surrounded by a multitude of angels and saints, beyond what the eye can see, but all looking down at me… at us, and cheering us on! Hear the announcer (I hear Howard Cosell), “And there he is taking the field. Oh, oh… he’s facing pride again. Can… he… do… it?” Somewhere the crowd are watching instant replays of past successes and failures, setting the stage for the next play. And I become aware of the simple fact that it’s not so much that we choose God, but that He has chosen us. Simple awareness of Him, who is Love, the very fabric of our being, impels the totality of our lives. We can do it.
Perhaps it’s not that He has stopped speaking, but that we’ve stopped listening. We’ve stopped looking at our seemingly “ordinary” lives through eyes of faith. Through eyes of faith we would see that our events and circumstances are not by chance, but are part of a custom-designed playing field intentionally designed by God Himself, for intimacy and fulfillment in Himself. This is the ultimate truth! Believe it!
So through that lens, I can see that launch of our Image Trinity (Catholic family movement), our desire to devote our lives entirely to that mission, almost entirely ignited by God through events that took place a few months ago. The thesis of this might well be an elaboration of God choosing us in the how. He does so through His Heavenly Community. In short, we don’t pick saints, they are picked for us. Here is testimony to that.
Just six months ago, in August of last year, Stephanie and I were blessed to be present at the national John Henry Newman conference in Pittsburgh, which had the gathering of many of the individuals associated with Cardinal Newman being named a blessed on September 19, 2010. We were engaged by the National Institute for Newman Studies to produce a 30 minute video. More on that in a moment.
Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890) was a theological “rock star” for the Church of England, until his spiritual/intellectual journey led him to Catholicism (1845). He is an amazing example of an integrated heart/mind holiness. Particularly for our culture today, Newman’s writing and life demonstrated the relational heart of faith, a faith that compels us beyond emotionalism, and the “jump-through-the-hoops”, “pick-and-choose,” or “whatever-I-want-it-to-be” varieties – but has the right design of the human person (in relationship to God) at the very heart.
The participants of this conference were aware of sharing a very special moment, illumined in a heavenly light that revealed Newman not simply as one who expounded eloquently on the truths of the Christian faith… but was now a powerful intercessor from heaven, one of the blessed. Renown Newman scholar, Fr. Ian Kerr, intimated that Newman’s beatification may be quickly followed by his canonization, and being regarded as one of the very few “Doctors” of the Church.
The final production showcases Newman’s God-given spiritual, intellectual, and intercessory power at the throne of heaven. The centerpiece is Deacon Jack Sullivan sharing the miracle story that occurred to him, that was admitted as basis for naming Newman as one of the blessed in heaven. The final program, “Heart Speaks to Heart from Heaven: The Newman Miracle Story” (extending his Cardinal motto, “Cor Ad Cor Loquitur” – “Heart Speaks to Heart”), was featured by both CatholicTV and EWTN..
Producing the program was more than a prayer for us, but a life-changing call. We invoked the intercession of Blessed Newman. And through the process became aware that we were called to step out in faith, to devote the entirety of our gifts to a dynamic movement promoting Catholic family life, as an Image of the Trinity.
Thus, our nonprofit Image Trinity, which had been in the prayer-planning stages for many years, was born. We seek to help families fully discover and live out their identity in the context of Eucharistic communities. We seek to do this specifically through dynamic events, resources, retreat centers and multi-media that will reach millions through our partnerships with various Catholic channels. In particular, we’re wanting to produce a television series called, “Living IT!” that will showcase families living Image Trinity (get IT?). And we hope to expand our Presence for Christmas in 2011 that will unite people in a world-wide retreat during Advent.
We didn’t, and don’t know where our sustenance will come from, but trust that others will be moved by the vision and help us.
So, in answer to the question, “How’s the saint-thing going?” I guess this would be our purple nail polish. It represents our desire to devote our all, in response to God’s call, through the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman (and Our Lady of Guadalupe). There is a big vision here, with tremendous, real opportunity. We need your prayers and support… to join us in this playing field as teammates, with great hopes that we may join the great “cloud of witnesses” proclaiming the endless praise of God!