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Turn to Jesus (Article)

What is Holiness?
Fr. Guillermo Serra, LC reflects on what it means to be holy

man in prayer

What does ‘holiness’ really mean?

Holiness is a call from God. It is our vocation; the whole reason he made us. To be holy means to participate in his essence, which is love. By being called to holiness, we are called to one goal in life: Heaven. Our journey on this earth is all about letting ourselves meet God, love him, and then respond to his love. In the measure in which we want to discover this love and respond to it, we are becoming holy, as we live up to our vocation.

Is the call to holiness limited to priests and religious?

The Second Vatican Council reiterated the universal call to holiness in several different documents. It is not something exclusive to consecrated souls, but a call for every Christian from the moment of Baptism.

Pope John Paul II made this very clear when he canonized many saints who were not consecrated. They were laypeople, young people, children, parents, doctors, teachers… They all lived heroic virtue and were witnesses of Christ in the society they lived in.

Does holiness have a place in today’s world?

More than ever, today’s world needs - I would even dare say begs – for holiness. Holiness is not something unreachable; it is a path that you walk along every day with Christ. Love for God leads to the Christian’s desire to respond to God’s love with fidelity in the fulfilling of his Christian duties and the duties of his particular vocation (i.e. family, job, etc.).

Who are the protagonists of holiness?

All of us as Christians are the protagonists of holiness. Mother Theresa of Calcutta tells an interesting story that illustrates this idea very well. A reporter asked her if she wanted to change the world. She said no. Upon hearing this, the reporter was surprised and said, “Mother, I thought you wanted to change the world for Christ.” She said, “No, what I want to change is myself. If I change and if you change, that makes two of us and the world will be better.”

Holiness is sometimes mistakenly presented as something unreachable; something for a few crazy people. This is not the case. Holiness is simply the desire to change yourself for Christ and for others. As Pope Benedict XVI said in an address to the youth in Germany, “Christ is not interested in how many times we fall in life, but in how many times we get up with His help. He does not demand extraordinary actions; rather He wants His light to shine in us.”

A few ideas for the path of holiness…

1. Ask God for it. It is a grace that only he can grant. It is not something that I myself can reach with my efforts.

2. Get to know Christ every day in prayer. In the measure in which he is a living person to me, I will be inclined to walk hand in hand with him. I need to experience him as a living person - someone who is close to me, an intimate friend of my soul.

3. Participate actively in the sacraments. The Eucharist is the nourishment that Heaven brings down to earth - Jesus Christ. Frequent confession helps me to recognize my faults and open myself to God’s mercy.

4. Carry my cross fearlessly every day, knowing that God will never ask of me anything that is beyond my strength.

5. Live attentive to the action of the Holy Spirit, being docile to his inspirations, which always bring me to do God’s will.

6. A tender and filial devotion to Mary. “Am I not here, your Mother?” This question of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego should resonate in my heart every day.

7. If I want to deepen my spiritual life and grow every day, it is highly recommended to look for a spiritual guide who can direct me, point me in the right direction, and prompt me towards holiness.



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