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Monday, December 01, 2008

Holiness

Jesus summed up His teaching in a startling and unambiguous call to His followers stating:
“You must be perfect, as you heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48)

Perfect in purity of heart, perfect in compassion and love, perfect in obedience, perfect in conformity to the will of the Father, perfect in holiness – when we hear these words we can be understandably tempted to discouragement, thinking that perfection for us is impossible.

And indeed it is, left to our own resources, just as impossible it is for rich people to enter heaven, or for a man and woman to remain faithful their whole lives in marriage. But with God, all things are possible, even our transformation.

So what is holiness?

In the book of Ephesians we read,
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph 1:4)

To be holy is not primary a matter of how many rosaries we say or how much Christian activity we’re engaged in; it’s a matter of having our heart transformed into a heart of love. It is matter of fulfilling the great commandments, which sum up the whole law and the prophets:
To love God and our neighbor, wholeheartedly. Or as Teresa of Avila puts it, holiness is a matter of bringing our wills into union with God’s will.

Therese of Lisieux expresses it very similarly: “perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be…who resist his grace is nothing.”

And as she said toward the end of her life: “I do not desire to die more than to live; it is what He does that I love.”

John Paul II stated that all parishes in the 3rd millennium are to become schools of prayer and places where training in holiness is given. He stated: “Our Christian communities must become genuine schools of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening, and ardent devotion, until the heart truly falls in love….it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life.

John Paul points out that the supportive culture of Christendom has virtually disappeared and that Christian life today has to be lived deeply, or else it may not be possible to live it at all.
John Paul makes it very clear that we are to grow until we are in union with God.
(The Fullfillment of all Desire - Ralph Martin)

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