What does it take to be a saint? It means to be set apart for God, dedicated to Him. What characterizes this dedication is a unrepeatable friendship with Him. Friends share everything they have with each other. They are always trying to pay each other back - and each side is always trying to "out-do" the other. Saints play this game with God eventhough God can never be out done. It is in this spirit that the saints think "because Jesus gave his life for me, I can do no less than give my life back to Him", and they find a way to dedicate every moment to loving Him and all those He entrusts to them. And no matter what they do, they do not think that they have done very much at all, because they constantly see in new ways how much God has done and never stops doing. The way they see it, they really have it better than they deserve - and they are driven by love to repay love for love.
This kind of friendship is impossible by human effort alone - but the Gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus won for us on the Cross and for which He never stops interceeding on our behalf, this Person-Gift, the Lord and Giver of Life, makes such a friendship possible. He animates us with God's love so that we can love like God.
The saints are all very clear on what it takes to fully recieve this Gift of God: integrity of life. This is worth fighting for with all one's heart and strength. Grace is not magic and the Cross is not cheap. The Lord has made this struggle possible to win by his grace but it involves constant vigilance, perseverance in all kinds of trials, and above all prayer - begging God for his strength which in the end is the only thing that gets us through. Yes, we fall a thousand times, but always the Lord is there to pick us up and help us start again. Real love is precious because it costs - what value is anything that does not have a price? After what Christ has done for us, is this price, the little effort I must put into resisting sin and loving tenderly, too much for us to pay? Our help is in the name of the Lord, and to Him belongs all the glory. For those dedicated to this ongoing struggle, as difficult as it is, we have every reason to hope - Jesus himself taught us: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure of heart (that is, those with integrity of life), they shall see God.
Thank God for all our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, who have fought the good fight, who have won the race, who persevered to the end. Through great trials, the Lord purified them and made them strong. Now they see His Face. Many of them were killed for their witness, and many of these witnesses offered themselves in our own lifetimes - and most of these we will never know in this life. But someday I hope to meet them, to become like them - free, free to see things as they really are, free to love with all my heart.