Most of us believe that it is impossible for us to be holy. We are too weak, or set in our ways. When I ask in my conferences for people to raise their hands if they believe they are holy, it is rare for anyone to do it. It is a lie from the enemy that we are not holy. In fact, in the first chapter of Ephesians we are told that we are holy. Do we believe that with God all things are possible? At times we see holiness in other people, but not in ourselves. We miss the point. The key to holiness is not what we have done but what Christ has done already. It is His death on the Cross and His Resurrection that allows us to be holy. However, we must embrace the gift of holiness. How do we do that in our lives?
1. Total surrender. For most of us we think, “Say what? Are you kidding me? That is impossible for me!” We don’t even consider the possibility, but for God all things are possible. Now more than ever, we need saints! People striving for holiness. We need to thirst for holiness with all our heart, soul, might and strength. How much do we hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is doing God’s will?
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
There is no way of striving for holiness partially. So many times we want to “have our cake and eat it too.” We want the pleasures of the world, fame, money and material things. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t be lukewarm in how we live our lives:
Revelation 3:15-16 “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
2. Ongoing Repentance. It is important that we get into the habit of ongoing examination of conscience. How often do you go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Popes, saints and very holy people go frequently. If you confess the same sins, then perhaps the enemy has a stranglehold in your life. Often, fasting and spiritual direction is critical to breaking this stranglehold. Do you believe that God is greater than any sin or problem? When you confess your sins do you truly believe that God has forgiven you? God died for you and wants to forgive and heal you. It is the way to have a life of abundance!
3. Charismatic Faith. What is the difference between faith and “charismatic faith?” Faith is trusting in God that something will happen, and charismatic faith is that you “know” that it will happen. When my wife was pregnant with our third child, the Lord gave me this verse: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalms 118:26) I knew that I knew that the baby would be a boy and that he would be consecrated to the Lord and holy. He has worked for the Catholic Church for over seven years.
4. Fervent Praise. When you strive for holiness, you begin to pray differently. Instead of nonstop petitions, you begin to praise God fervently and frequently. In Psalm 22 we learn that God inhabits the praises of His people. When we praise God we are in His presence and conform to His will. At that point our holiness grows dramatically. Learning how to praise is key to our growth spiritually. We know that it is important to give Him praise and thanks in everything that happens to us!
5. Intercessory Prayers. You and I have a great responsibility. We are to intercede for others in our lives. If you are parents, your prayers of intercession are especially powerful for your children and grandchildren. Pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet for your family and loved ones on a daily basis. It is such a blessing to pray for others and see how God is doing miracles in their lives. Whenever possible, pray over them for spiritual, emotional and physical healing. You will see incredible miracles when you pray and believe. Don’t give up and be discouraged if nothing happens immediately. Often these prayers are like the woman before the unjust judge. It takes time and perseverance to receive the blessings that God has in store for you!
6. Fervent Love. “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” It is one of my favorite songs and it personifies what we need to be doing, especially in our challenging times. Your prayer life should be moving you more to contemplative prayer and opening your heart to receiving the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When your heart is filled, you are compelled to share it with other people. The more love that is in your heart, the more it fills like it is bursting with joy. You can’t help sharing it with other people. Who is God calling on you to love today? Who can you call and be an instrument of encouragement to? Who are we to forgive, and who are we going to allow to forgive us for hurting them? The more you ask to be filled with the love of Jesus, the more love you will receive. People are starving for love, now more than ever. You are the personification of the Love of Jesus in action!
7. Embracing the Sacraments. I pray we appreciate these gifts and go to Mass and confession more often. I am certain that the more we partake and imbibe the sacraments, the holier we become.
What the Church needs and what we all need is holiness. I am reminded of a story in Robin Anderson’s biography of Pope St. Pius V (1504-72). He relates that the Vatican at the time was chronically short of funds, and a “well-meaning” bishop approached Pius with “a scheme for improving the Church’s finances.” The saintly pontiff refused, insisting that Christianity had “no need of treasure,” but instead Christians dedicated to prayer and the pursuit of holiness.
When we strive to be holy, our problems become manageable as we learn about suffering. Holiness leads us to Christ as we become united with Him in His love.
Deacon Steve Greco goes into greater detail about The Call to Holiness in his 2020 book Be Not Afraid. Visit Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry’s online store at www.spiritfilledhearts.org to purchase a copy.Deacon Greco’s Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry will present its first-ever virtual Saint Joseph Summit September 30 & October 1-3, 2021 with Deacon Greco and Fr. Donald Calloway serving as keynote speakers. Click here for the list of speakers and to register for free. Click here to read a Catholic World Report article about the conference, and here to read another one by Catholic News Agency. Click here and here to listen to YouTube invitations to the Summit by Deacon Greco and Fr. Calloway