Some Thoughts on Holiness

Some Thoughts on Holiness

In generations past, some had the idea that holiness was for priests and nuns. The laity were to attend church on Sundays, but the serious practice of religion was only for those who had dedicated themselves to a religious vocation.

I could quote several saints and Church leaders who have condemned this as an error in thinking. Mother Teresa comes to mind; she was poignant in her writings and would say that we must desire holiness and seek it with all our heart.

There is a universal call to holiness; everyone from the pope on down to the ordinary layman in the pew is called to be a saint. We are all called to live lives of holiness. This is certainly clear in Scripture.

1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘be holy because I [am] holy.’ 

When I bring up to people whether they are holy or are striving to be holy, they look at me like I am crazy. It is something they don’t think about, let alone attempt to achieve. Why not? A big part of it is people don’t hear teachings on holiness. They believe it is not necessary and most are sure it is impossible.  It is such an error in thinking.  

2 Timothy 1:9 He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Please take time to meditate on this Scripture. “He saved us and called us to a holy life.”  His death on the Cross, the pain He suffered, was to save us and allow us the opportunity to make a decision: do I truly want to be holy? Yes, it is not easy but consider the part that Jesus played. Do you want to waste the opportunity to be holy when our Savior did what He did to make us holy?

We have been set apart from others because of the love of the Lord. We are the adopted sons and daughters of God, bought with a price and anointed with the Blood of the Lamb.  

Leviticus 20:26 To me, therefore, you shall be holy; for I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from other peoples to be my own. 

We have been set free from sin and truly became free of our bondage. Now free, we have a decision to make: will we take advantage of our freedom and give back to the Lord what He desires? Do we want to be the personification of the love and the embodiment of love in action?  

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.

There are many steps we must take to live lives of holiness; I recommend you find a good spiritual director who can aid you on that path. These include regular Mass attendance, regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, daily prayer, daily penance, spiritual reading, time before the Blessed Sacrament, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and much more.  

We must also strive to remove sin from our lives. Let me focus in particular area: forgiveness. We cannot be holy if we have animosity and lack of forgiveness towards others in our hearts. If you have hatred or animosity toward another person, are you holy? We need to live in forgiveness and peace, and we will truly be the light of Christ.  

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Does holding on to your lack of forgiveness mean more to you than being holy? When we don’t forgive, it is like telling Jesus you don’t care that He died on the Cross for you. We are called to be the light of Christ: to live the Lord’s Prayer and to forgive as we are forgiven. We are called to be perfect.  

Matthew 5:48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I was fired from my job as Senior Vice President of Sales from a Fortune 25 company. I was recognized two months earlier as one of the top executives in the world, out of 20,000 employees. What changed? The previous CEO and I had a great relationship, but he retired. The new CEO didn’t like me and wanted to bring in his own person. What also changed is that the Lord was cleansing anything that I prioritized ahead of Him. I had to forgive the people who were involved in firing me. That was not easy. I needed a “miracle.” I needed God’s supernatural intervention and grace to be able to forgive. I ascertained later that without my being fired, I probably would never have become a deacon. I was weighed down with restricted stock and stock options and it was unlikely that I would have left my job in New Jersey.  When I came back a few months later, I was asked to become a deacon. This is how God works. He removes things in our lives that are barriers to holiness.

Desiring to achieve holiness is everything. Ask for it, desire it, seek it with all your heart and consecrate yourself to the Lord as sweet incense.  

Leviticus 20: 7-8 Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy: for I the Lord, your God, am holy. Be careful, therefore, to observe my statutes. I, the Lord, make you holy. 

What does it mean to “sanctify” ourselves? It is to think and act differently than how the world teaches us.

Let me also recommend another practice that can help you attain holiness: a daily examination of conscience. When we reflect on our day, what failings have we had? Are we committing habitual sin? Eliminate it! That starts with prayer and being led by the Lord so you can understand why you are turning away from God and turning to sin. It is critical that you get before the Lord in silence. Confirm your struggles to Him and let Him love you.  

Let me touch on a few more things I mentioned above. I am convinced that frequent Reconciliation is a requirement for holiness. It is through Reconciliation that we find forgiveness of our sins, ourselves and others who we struggle to forgive.

I am also convinced that we can’t receive the holiness we must have without frequent and, in most cases, daily Mass. We need the Body and Blood of our Lord to flow through us and heal us of everything that separates us from Him. Do you ever notice how your day and attitude gets better when you go to Mass? Everything changes when you make it a priority. It might take a while before you notice a difference, but you will see a huge change over time when you go to daily Mass.

In addition to the sacraments, desire holiness through faith. Why is faith so important?  

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  

We know that holiness pleases God.  If that is true, then strong faith must be at the core of holiness. It is transforming places in the world such as Africa leading to vocations and a transformation of hearts and minds.

We have discussed the importance of praise. When we praise the Lord, we release holiness within our soul. It is praise that opens the door to act in holiness with our interactions with other people. It is praise that helps change our attitudes into one of forgiveness of others.

When we are in a state of holiness we absolutely want to pray. This, after we praise and worship, also leads us to intercessory prayer. Praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet is important to our development of personal holiness.God is always looking for people who are warriors for Him who “stand in the gap” by praying for the holiness and healing of His people. Make a list of the people who the Lord wants you to pray for. Pray a decade of the rosary for each member of your family or a bead for each person on your list. You will never regret being an intercessor for God’s people. Often your prayers will be used to bring people away from sin and move toward Christ.  I believe that we will never realize how much our prayers bore fruit until we are with the Lord in heaven.

When we are in a state of holiness, we feel the love of the Lord. We want to share that love with other people. We meditate on how much God loves us and we tell others that they are loved. We also want to serve Him by living the acts of mercy of helping those who need our assistance in any way.

How do you spend your time? I see so many people who focus on pleasing themselves through sports, vacations, watching television or videos on the internet and countless other things. Are these things bad for us? Of course not. However, there is only so much time we have. We can go through life trying to experience pleasure or we can make a commitment to prioritize our time to serve God and His people.

I often get questioned why I do the things I do. Instead of vacations, I go on mission trips or lead people on pilgrimages. Instead of time at the beach, I am giving talks and seminars. The important thing is to pray and ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Don’t compare yourself with other people and what they are doing or not doing. At times, you may look at people and say “I am doing more than them.”  However, they may not be doing much of anything.  

I have found that any hardness of heart disappears quickly when I am serving the Lord and His people. I feel the Lord’s presence and holiness when I am serving others and not just myself.

Our goal in life must be to be holy. When we strive for holiness, the lack of forgiveness in our lives simply goes away because we realize that God is love and He wants us to love others with that love, no matter what they have done to us.

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Written by
Deacon Steve Greco