Holiness in a Nutshell

The essence of holiness is union with God. The third Person of the most Blessed Trinity is the Holy Spirit. Many names can be given to Him: the Paraclete, the Counselor and Consoler, the Interior Master or Teacher, the Sanctifier, and finally the Sweet Guest of the soul.

Union of God means living in the state of sanctifying grace. However, one of the key challenges is to be constantly open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. This is the key: being open and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Transformation of the Apostles

We read in the Gospels quite frequently the defects and downright failure on the part of the Apostles. For example, Peter wanted to prevent Jesus from His Passion and Crucifixion. Then Peter denied Jesus three times—as Jesus had predicted shortly before at the Last Supper. However, there was a key turning point in the life of Peter and the other Apostles. It can be the same turning point in our lives depending on one interior attitude and action: allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives.

The Apostles, united with the Blessed Virgin Mary, spent nine days and nine nights in silence, penance (fasting) as well as deep and constant prayer.  Then the Holy Spirit descended upon Our Lady and the Apostles in wind and fire. The Apostles were never again the same. Just read and meditate the Acts of the Apostles and see for yourself. Weak and cowardly men were transformed into valiant soldiers of Christ, even ready and willing to  shed their blood for the sake of the Name and Person of Jesus!

We will offer you three short but hopefully powerful hints that if taken seriously could change the course of your life. Why not accept the challenge?

1. A Good Confession

Why not spend a longer period of time to examine your conscience in great detail? Not only to spot your sins, but also the reason why you sinned as well as your inner motivations. Then beg from the bottom of your heart for a true, sincere, sorrow for these sins. Beg for the grace to recognize that sin is not only breaking the Commandments, but even more important, sin is breaking the Sacred Heart of Jesus who is the Incarnation of the love of God.  Then make a firm purpose of amendment, making the purpose to avoid any person, place or thing that can lead you into sin. Beg the Lord from the depths of your heart, even before entering the confessional, that this confession will be your best and that it will result in a transformation of your life.

One key concept of sacramental theology is what is called Dispositive Grace. This means, in lay terms, that the better you prepare or dispose yourself for the Sacraments then the more abundant graces you will receive.

In other words, the more generous you are in preparing to receive God in the Sacraments then the more generous will God be in the outpouring of His graces. So, right now prepare yourself, better yet, prepare your whole family to make the best confession of your life. You will never regret it!

2. Be Docile And Open To God’s Heavenly Inspirations 

God is always ready and willing to speak to us, but we are not always ready to listen to His voice. God spoke to the young Samuel in the temple, but he needed the help of the spiritual direction of the priest Eli. God spoke to Elijah on the mountain top—not in the earthquake, the thunder or lightning, but rather God spoke in the gentle breeze. God spoke to Our Lady through the instrumentality of the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger of God. God spoke to Saul as he lay blind on the road to Damascus. “Who are you, Lord?  I am Jesus of Nazareth who you are persecuting!”  God spoke to Philip the deacon in the Acts with the purpose of moving Philip to instruct the Ethiopian eunuch, baptize him and send him on his way to be missionary to Ethiopia.

Therefore, we must cultivate a listening ear. If you like this image: we must be like the huge dish that picks up the waves or “Vibes” (vibrations). Saint Ignatius teaches us that the good vibes and bad vibes are constantly at work within us. It is up to us to discern between the good vibes and the bad. We must recognize and accept the good vibes which are the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. But we must be prompt to reject the bad vibes which are the temptations of the evil spirit that we call the devil! In other words, to listen to the Holy Spirit and to be docile to His promptings we must cultivate the art of spiritual discernment.

3. A Strong And Growing Devotion To Our Lady

The Blessed Virgin Mary has many different but beautiful titles. This is expressed most clearly in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many of these attributes or praises of Mary are poetic symbols, and many are actually Biblical derivations.

However, relating to our topic on docility to the Holy Spirit, Our Lady can help us immensely! Why? For this simple but profound reason: Our Lady’s relationship to the Blessed Trinity and to specifically to the Holy Spirit. Our Lady is the Daughter of God the Father; she is the Mother of God the Son; finally, she is Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

A Cardinal once asked a group of charismatics the key to deeper union to the Holy Spirit. He gave the answer: union with Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. As soon as he finished there were peals of thunder and lightning bolts that responded to the Cardinal’s assertion. For that reason, St Louis de Montfort affirms this statement with these words: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into their souls.” Our Lady’s prayers open the gateway to the Divine Invasion of the Holy Spirit.

In conclusion, if you find yourself floundering in the spiritual life, going nowhere fast like a hamster running around the wheel, and experiencing a sense of frustration, a sense of stagnation in your spiritual journey, why not try the three steps? You can make the best confession in your life, be open and docile to the Holy Spirit and learn the art of spiritual discernment, and finally cultivate a deep and filial love for Our Lady. Indeed this could be the turning point in your life—the start on the highway to holiness!

image: gabriele gelsi / Shutterstock.com

Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

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Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of From Humdrum to Holy, which offers more words of wisdom for how to become a saint today. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

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