Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Barriers to Sainthood: Returning to old ways

So my friend said to me “Why don’t you go clubbing with us.. like old times?”
For a moment there I considered accepting, after all it was fun. I was a good dancer, and I got attention from girls.. and some of them were really good looking. It was harmless fun... or was it?
Then my rational mind kicked in... this was a temptation, a temptation to return to my former ways.

Suddenly I replied politely “Err, maybe” but I knew there was no way I was going back to the “old times” of senseless drinking, a dress code that screamed immodesty, and the worship of the rhythmic beat. No, I would never step into that chaotic anarchic place again.

We finished our conversation, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The temptation was over, for now anyway.

The technical term for someone like me is “revert”, as in was a Christian but lost the faith, and later came back to loving God. But the definition I truly believe reflects who I am is “convert”, someone who never knew God and then came to love Him. I know I was baptised as a baby, but I only just had my confirmation a little under a year ago.
Furthermore I only started believing in God in 2006, before which I had only prayed when things were grim, and not because I loved God, but because I thought my will was the only way. I did care for the people I prayed for, but the prayer lasted about a minute a day, and it was out of desperation, I prayed with the “I’ll give it a chance” mentality, nothing more.  Besides, I never read the Bible, and was a theist at best, lacking the gift of the Christian faith.

Like most people before their conversion, I thought I was invincible, and had no fear of where I would end up, because as far as I was concerned, Hell was just a concept, a mere story that was told to frighten people.

At this time, I fell into a lot of sin especially around my early teens, and believe you me, the devil even now keeps reminding me of it, in order to make me feel guilty. But then I remember that I have repented and confessed those sins to a Catholic priest a long time ago, which means I can move forward.

So why am I saying this? Because perhaps some of you have been devout Catholics your whole lives, and God bless you for that. But some of you may be just like I used to be.

But one thing has always given me hope is that God always gives us chances to change, and a great example of this can be seen with the life of St Augustine of Hippo. St Augustine was not a devout Catholic Christian his whole life, in fact before he lively saintly, he used to have wild parties at his house. These were the equivalent of the promiscuous teenage parties we see on the news, or perhaps worse. He had a faith but he was so cheeky that he used to pray “God, help me become Holy” but then added the words “But not yet”.

He was having too much fun in earthly delights of the flesh. He wanted instant gratification, like many of the Generation Y of today. But one day, he gave it all up. He heard a story about St Antony, and felt terrible shame, stating “Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"”

Doesn’t this sound like what is happening today? And this is why I mention this quote. Just like in those times, the people who supposedly know so much, yet do not know that which is important. It’s quite ironic, in a sad way.

Humans have a thirst for knowledge, knowledge is power apparently.
The same with me, I knew a lot, but the very thing I didn’t think I needed, that being a Christian faith and values, a relationship with God, and a holy life, was and would become the most important area of my life.

So St Augustine changed his whole life by God’s grace, became a Bishop and after his death was declared a Catholic Saint.

Was he tempted to return to his old ways? Certainly, but he persevered, and now rests in Heaven. Like St Paul the Apostle, he converted and now sees God face to face in the beatific vision.

Maybe you think you are a hopeless case, or that you’ll never make it to heaven, let alone be canonized a Saint.  But let me tell you, Augustine by his own admission kept rolling around in the mud of his sins, but God helped him become one of the Greatest Saints in history. God did that, so he can certainly help you.

Believe in the infinite power of God’s grace, and soldier on, persisting in faith, hope and love towards the place in Heaven that Jesus has prepared for you. And one other thing, you have Saints in Heaven just like St Augustine who were in your shoes originally, and they are all interceding for you.

Praise the Lord!


  1. Well done. I'm glad I found your blog.

  2. Thanks Richard, i'm glad it blessed you :)