“Striving for Sainthood”: An Interview with Brendan Gotta
“Don’t wait until you are old to start becoming a saint. That would be a great mistake! Begin right now, in earnest, cheerfully and joyfully, by fulfilling the duties of your work and of your everyday life. Don’t wait until you are old to become a saint. Because — I insist — apart from it being a great mistake, you never know whether you will live as long as that” (St. Josemaria Escriva; The Forge, no. 113).
In this interview, the St. Josemaria Institute speaks with Brendan Gotta of Gotta Be Saints about the joys and challenges of pursuing holiness in an ever-changing world.
Q: Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and the inspiration behind Gotta Be Saints?
Brendan: Growing up, I wanted to be just like my Dad. He was the spiritual leader in the house and was constantly talking to my siblings and I about being saints. I lived each day looking to please him. Eventually I came to understand who he looked to please, and it was not as much his earthly father as it was his heavenly Father. Upon understanding that, my desire became the same – live to please God above all else. Once this took root, I was unapologetically myself, sharing the Gospel message with anyone who would listen.
Gotta Be Saints is a fruit of that calling, providing me a way to use the gifts God has given me to bring others closer to Christ.
Q: What does sanctity, or holiness, mean to you or look like for you? Does its meaning change for you with time?
Brendan: To me, holiness is St. Peter on the beach with Our Lord following the Resurrection. Just days earlier, he had denied Jesus three times, and yet, had the audacity to come before Him once more, look Him in the eye, and profess His love. If that is not holiness, I do not know what is. Knowing what you deserve, and yet, in humility, asking for forgiveness once more, seeking another chance to love He who is love. Does its meaning change? Only so far as we change. The more we grow in self-knowledge, the more we come to understand how little we truly are.
Q: The idea of holiness, living like a saint, can seem overwhelming or even impossible for most people. How do you encourage those around you to pursue holiness and give them hope that sainthood is attainable?
Brendan: I think a quick look at me gives people all the encouragement they need to be a saint. If someone so broken and flawed can unapologetically preach holiness daily, it can’t be as impossible as it seems, can it? Besides just reiterating the truth I just mentioned, I also always speak to the truth of Divine Mercy. Our God is just, but he is also so merciful.
Q: How have the lives and teachings of the saints impacted you? Is there a particular saint that you are most drawn to? How has your spirituality been impacted by a deeper understanding of his/her life?
Brendan: Growing up, I had a few sports posters on my wall – most specifically, His Airness, Michael Jordan. My dad did not like it, and took the poster down and threw it away, telling my brother and I that we should not idolize athletes. At the time, I thought he was crazy, but as I look back, I recognize his wisdom.
Just as MJ provided me an earthly path filled with countless inspiration, the saints provided a heavenly one. The adage “Be Like Mike” had taken on new meaning, and became “Be Like Peter” or “Be Like Francis”.
I would not say there is one saint that I am drawn to more than all others, but I do have a few favorites, including St. Peter, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Josemaria and St. Faustina. Each has provided me a different aspect to my spirituality. St. Peter has provided me with a love for the tradition of Catholicism; St. Louis, a greater love for Mary; St. Josemaria, a desire to live out holiness in the mundane; St. Faustina a devotion to Divine Mercy.
Q: What helps you to remain happy and faithful in the spiritual life?
Brendan: Many things keep me going on this journey toward sainthood, but I think a constant self-reflection on the blessings in my life makes all the difference. When I really think about what God has given me in terms of my parents, siblings, education, etc., I find myself filled with great joy, realizing His goodness has no limits.
Q: Thanks so much, Brendan. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Where can our readers learn more about you and the mission of Gotta Be Saints?
Brendan: I thank you for affording me this opportunity! It is a great blessing to speak about how God has impacted my life and led me to where I am today. The only thing I would like to share is the simple truth – God is love. He made you with a reason and has a specific plan for you. If we are open to the graces He provides, He will use us and make us saints! If someone wanted to learn more about Gotta Be Saints, they could go to www.gottabesaints.com or check out the Instagram page @GottaBeSaints.