On May 6th 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds becoming the first person to break through the “four minute mile”. A feat thought impossible. So impossible that it was consider unhealthy if someone were to try. Once Bannister shattered the impossible it only took 56 days for another person to do the same. On June 21st 1954, John Landy ran the four minute mile in 3 minutes and 57.9 seconds. By the end of 1957 sixteen runners had completed this once impossible feat.
Pretty neat. Darn impressive actually. I was inspired….
In my life, there have been numerous ambitions (running the mile in 4 minutes has never been one of them). There has never been any bounds to these ambitions.
- In the the third grade I told my school principal that when I grow up I was going to be the Pope and a firefighter (you know…write epistles during the day; put out fires by night). Could you imagine how on point those clerics would be?
- Then, in the 6th grade, I was all about being a professional baseball player (that stupid groundball in the L.L. playoff).
- High school was filled with dreams of being either a congressman or journalist.
- In college – lawyer, professor, stock-market wizard or/and farmer. When all those options became frustrated the decision was to become a “nomad” because well you know…
These ambitions were mostly dreams that required work I was not about to put in. The majority of these ambitions never grew beyond being mere dreams due to my mindset. I never believed these ambitions to be attainable or even possible. Sure, it is fun to dream and it is fun to tell people about those dreams. Ambitions by themselves are often enough to impress people. The thought is never enough, higher standards must be set.
I will safe you the mantra on the power of positive thinking coped with the need for a strong work ethic, and instead (like any other sinner filled with ambition to not be a sinner) tell everyone how to make it to heaven. A quest worthy of all forms of work and positive thought.
Let me echo Mr. Matt Fradd’s sentiment and inform you that the thought of sainthood needs to be more than simply a nice thought.
There existed a mindset that said it was impossible to run a four-minute mile. There exist a mindset that says it is near impossible to become a Saint. This psychological barrier is just like any other barrier we sinners put up. It MUST be broken. When the levee is broken the flood waters rush in. A sub 4-minute mile is now the standard for all male professional middle-distance runners. You have the capacity to transform your own standards. Nothing less than sainthood will do.
A few weeks ago those who work at the Newman Center here at UMD went out for a beer to celebrate Fr. Mike Schmitz’s birthday. It was a typical old person birthday get together, the conversation turned to how Fr. Mike is getting older and that whole turning the big 4-0 phenomena thing. Old people can be quite obnoxious with that sort of thing. Typically these types of conversations are riddled with petty statements about desiring youth again or how the best years have passed.
Father was different though. Refreshing as usual. He was actually excited to be getting older. He said something I will never forget. He casually took a drink of his beer, shrugged his shoulders and remarked, “All I want… is to be in a state of grace… nothing else matters. This birthday brings me one year closer to heaven.”
YES, Father! That’s it. This is a transforming standard.
“The only thing we have to fear is sin. Everything else is beside the point.”
– St. John Chrystrodom
If you are in a state of grace you are going to be a Saint. If you are in a state of grace the only thing you desire is to remain in a state of grace. The only way you remain in that state of grace is by loving the Lord God with your entire mind, strength, heart and soul. This is the most worthy of all ambition.
Someday the hipsters will remark about how before it hit the mainsteam they were the ones praying for our Mother’s intercession in front of the Blessed Sacrament. My oh my… God bless those “hypster” cradle Catholics, those loveable “totally-basic” Catholic converts, and (of course!) those darn bandwagonning soon-to-be Catholic converts. Hop aboard! You beautifully created child of God! Go receive the Sacraments! Go love your neighbor! Being a Saint is in! It is attainable! It is possible! It is for YOU!