Someone once told me that the greatest tragedy in this life is not to become a saint. But what does it mean to be holy? The holy ones of God see his glory – not passively, but ardently and with initiative. To this end, C.S. Lewis offers a beautiful reflection on the glory of the Lord which is a glory vere latitat, a glory truly hidden, accessible only to the life of faith, a heavenly glory that no earthly creature can see unaided or bear alone. This glory is carried by our neighbor – a creature made in the image and likeness of God. The implication of his reflection when we apply it to our question is that being a saint means to be devoted enough, humble enough, vulnerable enough and loving enough to help one’s neighbor bear this burden, a burden never meant to be carried alone. To be holy means trusting Christ and allowing the weight of my brother’s glory to crush my own pride so that I too might finally learn what it means to be fully human, fully alive:
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of theses destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal… Our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ is vere latitat — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. Weight of Glory, 15.
Editor’s Note: Words to take to heart! All you Holy Saints, pray for us!
For more of Anthony’s insights on prayer, don’t miss his book, Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, an experience like no other. Anthony has an unusually profound understanding of mystical theology and lives a life of deep prayer. Among his many accomplishments and responsibilities, Dr. Lilles now teaches theology for the Avila Institute.
Art: Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Folio 126r – Paradise the Musée Condé, Chantilly (probably the most important illuminated manuscript of the 15th century, “le roi des manuscrits enluminés” (“the king of illuminated manuscripts”). It is a very richly decorated Book of Hours containing over 200 folios, of which about half are full page illustrations. It was painted sometime between 1412 and 1416 by the Limbourg brothers for their patron Jean, Duc de Berry. They left it unfinished at their (and the Duke’s) death in 1416. Charles I, Duke I of Savoy commissioned Jean Colombe to finish the paintings between 1485-1489.), Limbourg brothers or Jean Colombe, between 1412-1416 or 1485-1489, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.