Actions To Holiness
Actions To Holiness
You seldom hear anyone talk about becoming holy or describing someone as holy. “Holy” seems to be an out of date
term, almost a quaint use of language. This stems from the widely held belief that true holiness is beyond our reach and that somehow it is a term used for ancient and sometimes mythical characters. While this may be the belief of many, it is not the truth. In fact, we are all called to holiness, to define and align our lives by our faith.
To be holy is to give oneself over to God and allow God to make changes within us. It may seem impossible when we look at our past efforts or current state of mind, we have to trust God and allow Him to work on our hearts and minds? Nothing is impossible for God. With His help we can make changes in our lives that will lead us to holiness and unity with our savior. We may suffer some failures but persistence and faith will pay off.To be holy may entail increased prayer, increased dedication to family and loved ones, increased work in the Church or support of its works. It may mean a change in attitude that allows us to be thankful for each day and be happy with who we are. It could be acceptance of our state in lives or hope for a desired change. It may mean going in a direction totally new in our lives. Any and all of these may be truth but the end result should be peace in our lives and a quiet joy at our relationship with God.
True holiness is always the overriding characteristic of a person. It may come about in different ways or may even be a state we grew up with, but for most of us it is a goal, something that lies down the path we are traveling. As mentioned, often it seems to be an impossible desire or dream but it is in fact something God has made possible for everyone of His creations. It is possible for you and me. There are common building blocks for holiness. These building blocks are taught and provided by the Church as part of its mission in the world. They are available for all Catholics and if you really want holiness and the peace of mind that comes with it, you should look at the distractions in your life but especially at which of these building blocks is lacking or even missing.
Any relationship with God and any hope of gaining holiness must begin and be sustained by prayer. Prayer is the fuel of the soul. It is the basis of our relationship with God and opens the way to knowledge of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It allows the Holy Spirit to work within us and emboldens us to cooperate with God’s plan.
Prayer can be quiet, spoken aloud, include scripture reading or reading of spiritual tracts, can be constant or sporadic, but it must be consistent and to work it must be authentic and true to ourselves. In prayer we need to come to God in brutal honesty. We need to have the courage and hope to ask for God’s help and we need to be patient and open as to how or through whom that help will come. We will seldom recognize God at work while it happens. It is in reviewing our past that God’s work is often revealed.
Perhaps the biggest step we can take, one that is best done after sincere prayer, is to participate in the Sacrament of Penance, most often referred to as “confession.” I have found in my own life and in witness of others, that nothing will be as successful in bringing about change than sincere, heartfelt, honest and consistent confessions. In the confessional we bare ourselves to God without filters, and there we learn of God’s great mercy and love as we receive both His forgiveness and the hope found in Jesus Christ. A first confession after a long absence or a first true confession after many that skim the surface, can be a real challenge but it can also enable real change to take place. In this sacrament we unburden ourselves of the sin we carry and replace that sin with heartfelt repentance, a desire to change and avoid sin in the future. In doing so God lifts the guilt from our souls and replaces it with his healing Grace. It is the loving hand of the Father guiding His child back into safety and towards the home to which he belongs.
Another strong building block is participation in the Mass. At the Mass we witness God’s Grace in the world. We join the eleven and Jesus at the last supper as He gives us the fruit of His sacrifice in His Body and Blood to sustain us for the future. It is a feast of God’s love. At the Mass we also stand at the foot of the cross, witnessing one who was guiltless paying the ultimate price for His love of us. Jesus Christ suffers and dies on the cross, and the only thing He hopes to gain from this is our salvation. It is a true act of selfless love.
If we pay attention at the Mass, these truths will become evident. Hear the prayer as we offer ourselves to God. Watch as the celebrant first offers to God our gifts of bread and wine which represent all that we do for God and His Church and then experience the change as the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to change these gifts of bread and wine into the one gift that enables our salvation, that of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. Understand that as the priest holds forth the Body and Blood of Christ, he stands in the place of Jesus and offers you the salvation that this sacrifice gives.
Treat the Mass with respect and it will grow in meaning and impact. We should not be in a hurry for this is our time with God. Why would we want to rush that? We should give ourselves time before the Mass to pray in silence and put ourselves in the right frame of mind. We should understand that God is calling us into this community because He calls us not to go into the world alone but to do so as part of this Body of Christ, our brothers and sisters in Christ. God wants us to come to know our brothers and sisters, those God is calling us to build up and draw strength from. We are not in this alone.
These are the three basic building blocks for a Catholic to grow in holiness. Sometimes we have obstacles that keep us from fully participating in them. In those cases we need participate to the extent we can and depend on prayer and God’s Grace to remove those obstacles to holiness. You may want to contact Father Steven or Father Arthur for help. All things are possible in Christ … if we believe. If our believe is lacking, then that should become the focus of our prayer, for God to help us to come to faith and to know of His presence. God does hear our prayers and He will answer. He loves you too much to not answer.