When you think of a “holy” person, what image comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a priest, deacon, nun, or other clergy. Or that person in your parish who attends daily Mass. Or the volunteer who devotes his or her time to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other charitable organizations.
When you imagine a holy person…do you ever picture yourself?
To be holy is to be like God. Doesn’t that seem kind of lofty? How on earth could ordinary ol’ me achieve such a thing? The answer lies right in the question. Holiness doesn’t come from the “earthly” world. It’s not something we earn, or work towards, or deserve. It’s a gift from God. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)
God chose us. How beautiful!
So what exactly does it mean to be holy? Many saints and Christian authors have written about this topic. For today, I look to three Theresas to shed light on this topic:
- Holiness is a matter of bringing our wills into union with God’s will. (St. Theresa of Avila)
- “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.” (Thérèse de Lisieux)
- “Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.” (Mother Theresa)
The gift of holiness comes to us in the journey… as we follow God’s will and try our best to live as God would have us live. In doing so, we become the best version of ourselves. Pope Francis spoke beautifully about this topic in a Vatican Radio address in November 2014. “To be holy is to rediscover ourselves in communion with God.”
For me, the best part about holiness is that it’s a universal call. We are ALL called to be holy. It’s not a special status reserved only for the most pious. So even on those awful days when you’re stressed out, grouchy, and at odds with the world, if you bring those feelings to God and ask Him to work in you… you are holy. If you keep God at the center of all you do…you are holy.
It encourages me to realize that holiness can be lived out in the most ordinary tasks. I don’t have to escape to a cloistered mountaintop and live my days in silence in order to answer the call to holiness. I can be holy while making breakfast for my boys. Or answering phone calls at work. Or shopping for groceries. As Pope Francis spoke so beautifully:
“This is it: every state of life leads to holiness, always! At home, on the streets, at work, at church, in the moment and with the state of life that you have, a door is opened on the road to sainthood. Do not be discouraged to travel this road. God gives you the grace to do so. And this is all that the Lord asks, is that we are in communion with Him and serve others.” (Pope Francis, November 2014)
Spend some time thinking about the GIFT of holiness that you have received from God. What does that gift look like in your life? In what ways has that gift transformed your heart? In what ways can you “rediscover” yourself on the road to sainthood?