August 5, 2016
“Momma, I can be a saint, you know,” she said through ketchup-laced corners of her mouth. She paused from eating her hamburger at the local fast food restaurant with a curious look on her face.
I was caught a bit off guard, as this was a slight detour from the usual lunch conversation with my 9-year-old daughter. Our talks often revolve around happenings at school or complaints about her younger brother.
But I managed to answer, “You bet, you can.”
My girl explored what it meant to be a saint in her CCD classes this past year and thoughts of the possibility popped into her head for some reason during our lunch outing. I was happy to encourage the rather unusual timing of the topic.
A common tread among many saints is that they might have been the most unlikely candidates, but stepped up against all odds and helped others or advanced a cause greater than themselves. Many of us want to help, but don’t know where to begin. We want to make the world a better place for those less fortunate. But, where do we start?
If you’re familiar with the story of St. Katherine Drexel, you know of a young, wealthy heiress devoted to financing missions for American Indians and African Americans. She could have been a spoiled rich girl fulfilling her every desire. Not so, because her parents taught her that their wealth should be shared with those less fortunate.
After the death of her parents and contemplating their inheritance, she and her sisters were received in a private audience with Pope Leo XIII. They asked him for missionaries to staff their cause. To their surprise, the pope’s challenge back at them was, “What about you? What are you going to do?” He challenged Katherine to start her own religious order to staff her mission.
Those would be life-changing words for anyone. It reminded Katherine that, in the end, every Christian man and women, by virtue of baptism, is called on a mission. She entered religious life and then ended up founding a religious order. Each of us is compelled to answer God’s call, “What about you?”
In this case the pope’s words—“What about you?”—were addressed to a young woman in her 20’s with big plans. These words made her realize all the work to be done and she needed do her part.
How many of the young people in our parishes have similar big ideals, generosity of spirit, and openness to God’s call? One of the biggest challenges for the Church is reaching out to young people and fostering the sense of personal responsibility as missionary disciples to spread the Gospel to the world.
Not unlike my young saint-in-waiting who declared her intentions during lunch at a fast food restaurant that is open to accomplishing greatness in God’s kingdom. I’m pretty sure my youngster doesn’t have a solid plan in place of how to accomplish this, but she’s open to the calling.
Do we encourage our young people to foster their love for Christ and the Church? Do we challenge them and make space for them to find their path? Do we find ways to encourage their enthusiasm and gifts to offer mercy and aid to their fellow man?
What about you? By sharing your joy and enthusiasm in serving the Lord, it will motivate others to follow suit. I’m not about to squash my daughter’s aspirations to sainthood.
Can you do your part as was asked of St. Katherine Drexel? She stepped up when asked, “What about you?” Are you willing?
Mullally is the communications director for the diocese and editor of the Dakota Catholic Action.