Takin’ Out the Garbage (Dumpster Diving Part II)

Complete conformity to the will of God can be challenging. It involves a type of death—a death to self, to self will. Your will must decrease if you want God’s will in your life to increase.

God’s will for your life is that you become holy, be a saint, and go to Heaven. In order to achieve these most magnificent ends, you must surrender your will entirely and make the will of God your guiding path to sanctity. Embracing the virtues is the surest way to make this complete conformity a reality.

At work, I often receive letters from frustrated fallen-away Catholics who are upset that the Church hasn’t conformed to their needs, beliefs, and ideologies. A few weeks ago, I had a woman send us a list that began: “Here’s what the Church has to do to get ME back…,” followed by a series of bulleted items (all of which seriously conflicted with the Church’s consistent teachings, primarily on moral issues).

You see, people like this woman have their understanding of conformity all twisted up. We find misery—not happiness—in trying to get God to conform to our will. (And by the way, part of that misery stems from the fact that it will never happen, no matter how hard we try!) We will only find true happiness when we repent, and then conform to His will.

In football—and for this matter, life in general—the key to success is winning. That’s the goal. That’s the end to the means, or sometimes the means to the end. But in the life of our faith, we see how God, again, takes all of our preconceived notions and ideas about success and happiness and turns them right on their heads! In our relationship with God the Father, to win is to forfeit—to surrender before anything starts! Before we make any decision, any act, any movement of the heart, mind, or will, we must first flat-out GIVE UP! That would seem absurd in athletics…but with God it’s necessary. It’s a prerequisite to winning. We have to forfeit our will before we can conform to His. Only then do we win. So if life were a football game, the team that purposefully threw an interception to God in the first few seconds of the first quarter would have won before the game had barely even begun.

Some tips to help you in your process of complete conformity to the will of God:

  • In the morning, right after you open your sleep-soaked eye lids, pray for God to help you see the moments during your day when He’s asking you to conform to His will. During the day ask yourself, “Is doing this going to make me more holy?” If yes, it’s God’s will. If not, don’t do it. It’s literally that simple. And it works on small and big issues. God’s will is for you to be holy. So if something will increase your holiness, it’s in conformity to God’s will.
  • Start focusing on living a more virtuous life. If multitasking frightens you, try to focus on increasing one virtue at a time. And did you notice how there are seven? You all know what the number seven denotes in Scripture, right? Completeness.
  • Remember that alone you are weak, but God makes you strong. That’s how we reach holiness and sainthood—with His help. Do you know what I think God’s favorite mathematical operation is? Multiplication. I mean, we all know there’s some Scriptural support for it (for example, the multiplication of the loaves and fish). All we have to do is put in a small amount of our own effort and that little human effort of ours is infused with God’s grace and multiplied beyond our wildest expectations.
  • I will readily admit that I am far away from sainthood, but I know how to get there. Knowing how to get to the finish line is fundamental to running the race. God gave us the roadmap. He gave us the guidebook. And He gave us countless examples—all the saints—to show us that it really is possible to become a saint. And even though I fall over and over again, it’s not a hopeless process because I know what I’m aiming for, and that with God’s grace, even a sinner like me can get there.
  • Earlier, it was mentioned that it could be beneficial to focus on one virtue at a time. I should stress, then, the importance of constant work on increasing the virtue of charity in your life. We know from 1 Corinthians 13:13 that “faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I’m sure if you took a few seconds right now, you could think of about a dozen people in your life that you are failing to love as you should, and you could probably narrow that list down into some whom you are failing miserably at loving. I strongly recommend the book, No Greater Love, by Mother Theresa. This wonderfully simplistic book will help teach you how to strengthen the virtue of charity in your life. It has greatly helped me in practicing this virtue in my own life.
  • Finally, if you are really serious about conforming to God’s will in your life, start receiving the Eucharist more—in fact, receive as often as you can. One cannot underestimate the power of having Christ physically present inside of you, working to carve out those trashy vices and gradually transform you into a saint. Pope St. Pius X said, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.”

As Mother Teresa once said, “True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile.”  Be happy! You know the secret to becoming a saint: complete conformity. Now do it.

 * This article is adapted from a reflection given by Katie Peterson at the St. Peter Chanel Business Association, February 2010

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About the Author

Check out Katie Warner’s exciting book, Head and Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, August 2015).

Here’s what some other Catholic authors and leaders are saying about Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, foreword by Bishop James Conley (Emmaus Road Publishing):

"Read this book now and your children will thank you later." (Steve Ray)

"Warner has drawn up a map we can read and follow, so that we all arrive at the goal [heaven], together with our families." (Dr. Scott Hahn)

"Head & Heart will help you take small steps toward building a vibrant Catholic identity in your home." (Dr. Edward Sri)

Katie Warner

Katie Warner is a Catholic wife, stay-at-home mother, speaker, writer, and evangelist who is passionate about taking small steps toward a more meaningful and spiritual life, and helping others do the same.

Katie writes and speaks about a variety of spiritual and practical topics, and has presented in venues like the National Catholic Bible Conference and numerous Legatus chapters, the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, EWTN radio, and on EWTN television. She is also a presenter for the Symbolon RCIA and Opening the Word programs produced by the Augustine Institute. Katie is one of the original contributing writers for The Integrated Catholic Life and a correspondent for the National Catholic Register.

Katie works very part-time (usually during toddler naps and late at night) as the Manager of Communication and Evangelization for Catholics Come Home, a national Catholic evangelism apostolate working to invite fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church. She holds a graduate degree in Catholic Theology, specializing in Evangelization and Catechesis, from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Her favorite ministry work—and day-job—is family life, and she enjoys homemaking and mothering in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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