I think that the more that you try to take your faith seriously, the more you feel woefully inadequate.
The more I take my face seriously, the more I realize that I don't pray enough - that there is no such thing as enough when it comes to pray, because love knows no limits. I find myself unsettled when I examine my conscience and realize all the ways that I just fail to love every day.
I wish it were otherwise, but for better or for worse, I have a loooong way to go in my faith. And just when it feels like I'm making headway, something happens that makes me realize that I am no where near perfection. If you thought about it too hard, you would despair. Because, on your own, you can't get to heaven. Plain and simple. You need God's grace, but you also need something else...or rather, someone else.
You need the communion of saints.
That is why I like to think of myself as baby sister to the saints.
I spend my days with a big sister and a baby sister, so I know what that interaction looks like. The baby sister can do pretty much no wrong in the eyes of the big sister. The big sister happily lets the baby smack her face playfully because she knows the baby is trying to play in her own way. The big sister puts up with the baby squealing and tries to keep her happy because she knows all too well how frustrating it can be to be a baby. Because the baby is little and cute, everyone is a little bit more patient with her. They know that she's trying and they want to help her grow as much as they can.
Babies are little and loveable...but they also aren't malicious. They just kind of fumble their way through things, are a bit mischievous from time to time, but are ultimately still trying to learn how to be good.
So it is with us and the saints.
For those of us either in a state of grace (or scrambling to get back in a state of grace when we mess up) we're typically trying to do things the right way...but we often don't. And our attempts can be outright laughable. But the saints remember what that was like...and they want to help!
I know I'm not the first person to think of things this way - I'm fairly certain that my beloved St. Therese viewed the communion of saints this way. But it's true, we are so little and fumbling and the saints - like the good big brothers and sisters that they are - just want to help us!
The saints rejoice when we get things right, and cheer us on when we struggle. We're we're learning how to "crawl" in the spiritual life, the saints are the ones crawling beside us and saying, "You can do it! You can do it!" (Do your children do that for the baby of the family?) And so, with great confidence, we can rush to the saints and ask them for our prayers. They want to do all they can to lift us up on their shoulders so we can see God better. They want to hold our hands and we toddle toward heaven. They love us, with perfect affection, and they are so happy each time a new sibling joins the family.
I'm reminded of this, because I got to go to a baptism yesterday (my goddaughter's baby sister!):
I love baptisms! With every fiber of my being, I adore them. Baptisms make me bubble over with a deep down joy. I think of how excited a toddler is when there's a new baby around (or at least how excited my toddler was) and how much they just want to smother that baby with love. That's how I feel when I get a new brother or sister in the Church.
And if I feel that way...how much more so must the saints feel that way?
I've been struggling with something lately in my spiritual life, and I find great consolation in the prayers of the saints. What joy it is to be a part of the family of the Church! What joy it is to not be traveling the path to heaven alone. :-)
Here's what we wore to the Mass and baptism:
As always, it was fun for us to get to see our goddaughter...I still can't get over how much bigger she is these days! She's a little girl, not a baby anymore!!
We really do think of our godchildren with such deep affection - almost as if they were our own. We pray for them every single day and are so excited to see what God has in store for each one of them. So far, God has only blessed us with two physical children, but adding on these three spiritual children fills our hearts up more than each of them will ever know. Five precious little ones to pray for...what a gift!