I’ll never forget being told one day, “Well…you know, you were created to be a saint.” I remember thinking to myself, “Huh? Yeah, right.” I must have looked at the person funny while I was thinking that, because he smiled at me and said, “Yes. You were created to be a saint. It’s true! You were created in God’s image, you were created holy and to be with God. We all are.”
My reaction – “Wow!” This person was being serious. I recall feeling somewhat amazed. The more I thought about it though, I felt almost embarrassed, like I had missed this really important piece of information. I felt like it was something that should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t, because up until that point, I had never heard those words before. Here I was, in my 30’s, and despite years of attending Liturgy (or Mass), week in and week out, neither these words nor anything resembling them had ever been called to my attention or directed to me before that day.
While these words may seem obvious to some, it had never occurred to me and having someone speak these words to me out loud was so profound. It was a moment I will never forget; it definitely changed me, and the way I have seen myself, others, and the world around me. It inspired me to try to be a better person.
Growing up, I attended religious education religiously from kindergarten through high school. Every Sunday throughout the school year we had Sunday school followed by Liturgy. Once the school year was over, we got to sleep a little later, before leaving the house to get to Liturgy.
One very snowy Sunday morning, I recall our car, with my parents and siblings packed inside, sliding all the way along the VFW Parkway as we made our way to West Roxbury. I was probably only 8 or 9 at the time and the ride was rather scary. We were all very quiet as my father maneuvered the car. When we got there though, I remember there was only my family and the family bringing donuts for the coffee hour. As a child, I was excited that Sunday school was canceled and we got to eat donuts (usually reserved for the adults who had coffee hour while we were in Sunday school) as we waited and people gradually arrived for Liturgy. I remember other times when it was pouring rain and there were huge puddles on the parkway. We literally attended every week, rain or shine, sleet or snow. As I think back, I find myself marveling. There’s no way that could’ve been convenient for the parents of 6 children!
While I never learned as a child that I was created to be a saint (maybe that was the lesson I missed that snowy day that we sat eating donuts with the Kfoury family), I will never forget the memories of going to church every week with my family and the faces of the families with whom we worshipped. I learned the importance of being family and coming together to celebrate and give thanks to God not only with my family, but also alongside other families. I witnessed and learned about commitment and dedication. I learned how to be faithful. Or rather, my parents, whether they knew it or not, and whether it was convenient or not, by their example, were teaching me how to be faithful.
I feel very blessed to have had that experience growing up and while I may have not liked it at times, or may have fallen away from it or taken it for granted on the way to adulthood, the memories of all those Sundays formed a foundation that has always pointed me back home…back to the center…back to the One without whom I am nothing…back to God.