ice cream scoop

My Life/Teen Life

The Ordinariness of Sainthood

One of the most frequent questions I received when I returned home from my semester abroad in Rome was: “So, what was the best part?”

I wanted to say it was the gelato, or maybe the cappuccinos, but I knew this severely underestimated the last three months of my life. After answering this question countless times, and reflecting on the ways the Lord transformed my heart during this semester, I finally had my answer: it was the streets.

I’m not just talking about the winding cobblestone roads that lead to cute cafes or pretty churches and also ruined my favorite black Nikes. I’m talking about walking in the footsteps of the saints.

Whether I was moseying around the city after class or heading to St. Peter’s to pray the Angelus with the Holy Father, every single step seemed more significant because of those who walked before me.

The City of Saints

I thought of St. Peter and his bold witness to the Truth that led him to crucifixion and me to the Church that I call home. I thought of Pope Gregory XI returning to the papacy to Rome after almost seventy years in Avignon because of St. Catherine of Siena’s fierce docility to the Holy Spirit. I thought of Pope St. John Paul II and all the time he spent praying in the churches I wandered in and out of every day, or St. Teresa of Calcutta walking through the same square to attend Mass at St. Peter’s. I thought of St. Therese, who walked the same streets on a pilgrimage with her family at age 15 as she discerned her vocation to join the Carmelites.

And then I thought of how, just like me, Rome was a fairly small moment in their lives.

Rome didn’t make these saints who they were; God the Father did that. Rome didn’t make me more virtuous; God the Father did that (and He’s still doing that.)

The Life of Grace

Our Father forged the path for these holy men and women to bear witness to the truth in a way that was so unique and transformative to the Church that we could only credit their lives to grace. They achieved greatness not by their own merits or efforts, but in their active participation in life with Christ. And as Christians, we are called to this same life of freedom found in Christ. The best part? It will look different for each one of us.

Years later, my life is far more ordinary than it was when I was skipping through St. Peter’s Square on the regular. And if you’re anything like me, you also might be tempted to believe that you can’t participate in this extraordinary life by your ordinary means. The good news? Ordinary moments are where saints are made. This moment – big or little – remains full of grace.

You don’t have to solve every problem in your community, the Church, or the world to participate in the greatness that God has called you to. In fact, trying to do it all will likely lead to the false illusion that what you have to offer isn’t enough. The truth is that God has a unique purpose for your life – one in which you are participating right now – that no one else can achieve but you, and you cannot achieve without God.

The saints that we honor in our Church all have one thing in common: the most significant thing they did was invite Jesus to love them. Through their courage and docility, they changed the world one small yes at a time. That’s the beauty of this Love: it meets us exactly where we are and only asks us to take one more step. Jesus provides the grace – we only have to participate.

And when we participate in the small things, we build up the Kingdom.

About the Author

Kelsey Dassance

I'm a midwest gal at heart but am currently living it up in the Arizona desert, never without iced coffee. My favorite things include climbing mountains, working for Blessed is She, and quoting St. John Paul II far too often. You can find me on Instagram @kelseydassance.

Want to write for Life Teen? Click Here to learn more.