Often, as we look to the next life, we don't stop to reflect on the fact that whatever happens in the hereafter is based on what we do now, on our response to the call to holiness which comes to us through our Baptism. What do we do now, in this life, to grow into sainthood.
All of us are made saints (holy) the moment we are baptized. It's what we do afterwards that changes things one way or the other. I remember having this fact brought home to me very clearly back in 1978 when I was on an extended pilgrimage in Rome and Assisi. We visited the cathedral of St. Rufino there and stopped by the baptismal font where it was noted that about 10 different saints and blesseds were baptized there. Once we were duly impressed with that our guide pointed out that after our own baptism each of us had the same grace as those saints. (See the short video clip of this below, taken in May, 2011)
So how do we grow in holiness in this life? An obvious answer for starters is through prayer, and indeed without a strong relationship with the good Lord we don't grow in holiness. But prayer alone is not enough if we don't make changes in our life. This message came across loud and clear in a wonderful movie I saw the other day--The Way, starring Martin Sheen. In this movie the four main characters are making a pilgrimage, walking over several weeks a 500 mile (800 km) trek to the shrine of Santiago (St. James the apostle) de Campostella in Spain, departing from a small town in France.
None of the characters have a highly religious motivation for making the journey, but deprived of the ordinary creature comforts of their everyday lives, thrown together with each other, and not always happily so, they are forced to confront their weaknesses and shortcoming which become unmasked by the stress of the journey. By the time they arrive at Campostella they are transformed, perhaps not ready for canonization, but transformed nonetheless as they fall on their knees at the shrine of the apostle.
I highly recommend the movie which, to use the parlance of the day, is much more about spirituality than about religion, and hope that it might move you, as it did me, a bit closer to sainthood.