Today (November 1st) the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints.  Today we honor all the men and women of past ages and times who lived the fullness of the faith and today we acknowledge that we also are called to be saints in Christ!

Below is a quote from Thomas Merton’s “Seven Storey Mountain” that continually comes to my thoughts around this feast day. 

Therefore, another one of those times that turned out to be historical, as far as my own soul is concerned, was when Lax and I were walking down Sixth Avenue, one night in the spring.  The street was all torn up and trenched and banked high with dirt and marked out with red lanterns where they were digging the subway, and we picked our way along the fronts of the dark little stores, going downtown to Greenwich Village.  I forget what we were arguing about, but in the end Lax suddenly turned around and asked me the question:

“What do you want to be, anyway?”

I could not say, “I want to be Thomas Merton the well-known writer of all those book reviews in the back pages of the ‘Times Book Review,’ or ‘Thomas Merton the assistant instructor of Freshman English at the New Life Social Institute for Progress and Culture,’ so I put the thing on the spiritual plane, where I knew it belonged and said:

“I don’t know; I guess what I want is to be a good Catholic.”

“What do you mean, you want to be a good Catholic?”

The explanation I gave was lame enough, and expressed my confusion, and betrayed how little I had really thought about it all. 

Lax did not accept it.

“What you should say” – he told me – “what you should say is that you want to be a saint.”

A saint!  The thought struck me as a little weird.  I said:

“How do you expect me to become a saint?”

“By wanting to,” said Lax, simply. 

“I can’t be a saint,” I said, “I can’t be a saint.”  And my mind darkened with a confusion of realities and unrealities: the knowledge of my own sins, and the false humility which makes men say that they cannot do the things that they must do, cannot reach the level that they must reach: the cowardice that says: “I am satisfied to save my soul, to keep out of mortal sin,” but which means, by those words: “I do not want to give up my sins and my attachments.”
But Lax said: “No.  All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one.  Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you consent to let Him do it?  All you have to do is desire it.”

A long time ago, St. Thomas Aquinas had said the same thing – and it is something that is obvious to everybody who ever understood the Gospels.  After Lax was gone, I thought about it, and it became obvious to me. 

The next day I told Mark Van Doren:

“Lax is going around saying that all a man needs to be a saint is to want to be one.”

“Of course,” said Mark. 

Maybe the best way to celebrate the Feast of All Saints is to consent to let God make of us what He intends us to be.