All that matters is that one is being created anew. Galatians 6:15
Matthew Kelly, author of “Rediscover Catholicism,” describes holiness as seeking to become “the best version of yourself.” He says that God wants us to be ourselves, but not the self our ego wants us to be nor the self the world wants us to be, but rather the self that God had in mind when he created us.
I was reminded of something I wrote in the seminary a very long time ago — a high school writing assignment about some religious truth in sort of a theological “science fiction” style. Here it is, as I remember it, 50 years after the fact.
In the beginning, we were created in duplicate. In one version, we are created as the ideal version of our self to live on a special planet, called Utopia, with other ideal versions of individual human beings. In the duplicate version, we are simply created with the potential to become ideal versions of ourselves and placed on planet Earth for an unspecified time. On Earth, we are given the challenge, and divine help, to become the best versions of ourselves, but we are not forced to accept the challenge or the help, even though it is offered over and over again as long as we live on Earth.
At the end of that unspecified time, we die and are transported from Earth to Utopia to meet the ideal versions of ourselves, our duplicates, the versions that we were challenged to try to become while we were on earth.
On meeting the ideal versions of ourselves, if we recognize ourselves, we slowly fade into that ideal self through a process of purification or purgation. Once the two selves fade into each other, we are transported to planet Heaven to be that perfect version of ourselves for all eternity.
If we fail to even recognize ourselves, finding that it is impossible to fade into the ideal versions of ourselves, we must spend the rest of eternity with the vision of what we could have become before our eyes on a fourth planet called Regret.
There, feelings of regret, knowledge of a missed opportunity and awareness that our state is no one’s fault but our own, go on unrelieved forever. Someone else said recently that hell is when the person you have become meets the person you could have become.
As we respond to God’s invitation to grow in holiness, let us remember that we are not called to be another St. Francis or “St. Anybody.” We are called to be ourselves, the best versions of ourselves that God had in mind when he created us.
I know I can never be another St. Francis of Assisi but I can, however, try to become St. Ronald of Rhodelia. I will no doubt have to “do time” in that purification process, but once I am cleaned up, I hope to fade into that best version of myself.
Father J. Ronald Knott