The great 20th-century saint challenges Catholics to “reflect the light of the gospel” in a darkened world.
Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the holiday season. Many of us will open our homes to friends and relatives. Emotions run high with excitement and… fear!
Right – fear. Because families are made up of all kinds of people, and some of them are difficult, with prickly personalities. Although you’re looking forward to getting together with your loved ones over the holidays, you might be thinking, “If only the one person who annoys me the most just declined the invitation – everything would be perfect!”
You think, “This person bothers me!”
When you find yourself in this situation, reach for the wise words of Saint Josemaria Escrivá – the “saint of ordinary life.”
He gives this advice: “Don’t say, ‘This person bothers me.’ Think, ‘This person sanctifies me.’”
Saint Josemaria was a Spanish priest who had divine inspiration (at the young age of 26) to found Opus Dei, which means “work of God” in Latin. Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. Its mission is to “spread the Christian message that every person is called to holiness and that every honest work can be sanctified”.
Saint Josemaria was witty yet humble. He fervently preached that every path in life could be a path to holiness. In addition, we do not have to go in search of God, “because all the ways of the earth can be occasions for an encounter with Christ.”
He promoted peace and urged everyone to do the same. He wanted everyone to bring happiness and “reflect the light of the gospel” to everyone he met.
The Spanish saint wrote several books full of practical suggestions on living a Christian life and drawing closer to the Lord.
Here are 3 pieces of advice from the book of the great saint furrow You can put this holiday season into practice when meeting with your relatives.
1. “Prayer is a time for sacred intimacy and firm resolutions.” (457)
Say a prayer before your family arrives. I like to say an Our Father, an Ave Maria and that come holy spirit prayer every morning. Ask God for peace in your home and resolve to do your part to keep the peace during the meeting. This can mean biting your tongue or talking to that one person you’d rather not talk to.
2. “It’s not enough to be good; you have to show it What would you say of a rose bush that only produces thorns?” (735)
Show kindness to the person getting under your skin. Does he have a favorite dessert or side dish? Find out and surprise him while eating! You will make him feel special. You might even see a softer side of this person that you’ve never seen before. A simple gesture like this could be the start of a new and improved relationship.
3. “Practicing charity means respecting the way other people think. It means rejoicing in their path to God without trying to make them think like you or join you.” (757)
You may be seeing a relative for the first time in months or even years. Perhaps she is living a life that is not in communion with the faith. Your heart aches for her. Remind her how much you love her. Remind her how much God loves her. But leave it at that. Don’t try to force conversion over dinner. Instead, make a decision to pray for them regularly.
“Everyone will reach God by going his own way,” says Saint Josemaría. “Don’t be distracted by comparisons or wanting to know who is superior. That does not matter; what matters is that we all reach the goal.”
So don’t hesitate to get involved this holiday season with those difficult loves you would normally avoid. Instead, take the opportunity to hear the words of St. Put Josemaria into practice and receive a greater fullness of God’s sanctifying grace!