Holiness: A living through, with and in God

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

God calls us to holiness. Our reply to God is, “Who me, Lord? I am unworthy. It is not possible!” God persists, however, and from our Baptism we learn that we are of God and that because of this we are given a dignity which is ours to flourish through all our days. Holiness is not an elevation of state. Holiness is a living through, with and in God. It is an interior spirituality, which overflows and cannot be contained. We see this with the early Christians. They were known by their difference—by the cherished love they bestowed upon each other—whether friend or stranger.

Does holiness mean that we are perfect? It means that we are always striving to imitate Jesus Christ. Yes, we may fail. Holiness is not wallowing in our failure, but seeking forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance and adjoining once again to be Christ’s light within the world.

Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation, Gaudate et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad, paragraphs 6-7) talks about our holiness. “Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for ‘it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness’ (Lumen Gentium) … I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.”

The saints are a guide to holiness. The processes of beatification and canonization recognize the signs of heroic virtue, the sacrifice of one’s life in martyrdom, and certain cases where a life is constantly offered for others, even until death. Our churches are named for the saints and we seek to emulate their examples of faithfulness. On Oct. 12, Pope Francis canonized five saints: St. John Henry Newman, founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England; Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, a member of the India-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church; St. Giuseppina Vannini, founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus; St. Dulce Lopes Pointes, of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God; and St. Margarita Bays, of Switzerland, virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi.

I encourage you to learn more about these new saints, the saint for whom your parish is named and the saint for whom you are named.

We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. What does God want of you right now? His message of love and forgiveness is all around us, but do we truly believe it and help share His glory with others? You have the power to positively influence the souls around you. Be a beacon of mercy and gentleness to those who need your kindness. Ask God how you can help others and never be afraid to say, “Yes, Lord!”

Pope Francis said that holiness is the most attractive face of the Church. May we also be that attractiveness.