Already but not yet
I was recently struck by a teaching of the foundress of the Focolare movement, Servant of God, Chiara Lubich. This teaching proposes three types of Christians - all sinners. The first kind repents after a fall but does not begin again. The second kind repents after a fall and begins again but without focus on eternal destiny. The third kind begins again and races for the finish line with a gaze fixed on heaven. It's the third kind that becomes a saint.
In the language of discernment of spirits this fall as the heart of the dynamic of daily conversion and the spiritual warfare it entails. The greatest weapon of the demon id to take the soul out of the present moment, whether through discouragement, fear of the future, remorse of the past and a host of other tactics. Time is a space within eternity that has the strange property where things happen in succession and not seeing the outcome we are forced to choose and live by this thing called faith. I call it unusual because where God dwells is the greatest reality and hence the most "normal" if you will. Yet even as we dwell in time, God dwells in the eternal NOW - the locus of intersection between what we experience and where God dwells is always in the present moment. There simply is no tomorrow only now. So how does a person become sanctified if it is a process that happens over a lifetime? I believe the answer is simply this, by breaking through the illusion of the demonic that somehow I will become sanctified as I grow older. It will happen later by some grace and realizing that sanctity is a question of already but not yet. What does this mean? - that I should act now as if I were already a saint and it will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Certainly my actions will lack purity but that will come by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Another quote of the Focolare movement sums this up in a powerful economy of words. "I will be a saint, if I am a saint immediately"