This past June, I accompanied our Middle School youth group to covecrest along with some parents and two other core team members. Like the year before, I fully expected the kids to get a boatload out of it and of course they did. What I forgot was how much I would benefit from it. I was so focused on making sure the kids allowed the Holy Spirit to transform them that I didn't worry about the Holy Spirit transforming me.
During that wonderful week there, I came face to face with myself; my fears, my shortcomings and my self-inflicted obstacles. I was so aware of how not worthy that I was for the call to Religious Life that I found myself asking God if He was sure. I honestly wanted and needed an explanation as to why our wise Lord would choose an undeserving sinner like me to live on this path to Holiness. This brought me great sadness and it troubled me greatly. It wasn't until Thursday (camp was from Monday - Saturday) that I finally stopped to focus on how unworthy I was but rather on how wonderful and merciful our Lord was. Father Rob (bless His heart) kept reassuring the teens that they were wonderful and they were definitely worthy of the Lord's love.
That evening I went to chapel for evening prayer and as I sat there, reading psalm 139 I couldn't help but sob uncontrollably. That psalm always have that effect on me for some weird reason. I started to realize that the Lord knew me much more than I knew myself and if He saw fit to call me to this life then I should embrace it and Him. The next day we celebrated the feast of St. Peter and Paul (how fitting was that?) I remember clearly how father Rob reminded the kids that "today is the Feast day for anyone who's ever messed up" he also reminded all of us not to struggle with our shortcomings because "God does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called" It meant so much to me to hear that especially due to the struggles I was having earlier in the week.
I wrote that little sentence down in one of my notebooks and I kept reminding myself that God didn't call me because I'm the best person for the job and the most perfect one out there. He called me because out of my weaknesses, my failures he can bring about something beautiful. Early on in my discernment St. Paul and St. Peter were great examples to me of how much one does not need to be perfect. Then of course I remembered David and I realized that I was in "good company" with my less than perfect ways. Years later, I stumbled onto St. Augustine and St. Monica and I found a kindred spirit (oddly enough in both of them) I see how much this wonderful saint loved Our Lord and had such compunction for his shortcomings and all I can think of is how wonderful. Someone who definitely was not perfect but who through the prayers of His mother and through the Lord's grace became a saint.
Today, as we celebrate the feast of one of my most loved saints, I invite you to remember that we are called to strive for perfection but that doesn't mean that we are discounted if we are not there yet. All we need is to be sincere in our desire for the Lord and do our best to overcome our shortcomings. St. Augustine recognized his sinfulness but then gave it all to the Lord and allowed Him to transform his heart. I beg the prayers of this wise saint along with that of his mother everyday and I know they are storming heaven for me.
In celebrating the feast of St. Augustine today, remember that God qualifies the called; and so if you let Him, He will prepare you for whatever wonderful thing He has planned for you.
Happy feast day of St. Augustine,