Holiness Now

praying haloThe primary purpose of man on earth is to know God, love God, and serve God in this short life so as to be happy with him forever in heaven. This is a clear and unequivocal truth taught in the Baltimore Catechism.

St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises expresses the same truth but using slightly different words:   “Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God, and by means of that to save his soul. “ (# 23)

Many today live in a perpetual identity crisis as to who they really are, what their ultimate destiny is and how to arrive at their ultimate and final destiny!

Another approach to this existential problem and the answer to it is expressed in the fifth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium: the universal call to holiness.  In the most concrete of expressions: All are called to become saints.   None other than Jesus Himself taught this in the Sermon on the Mount:  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, they will be filled.” Then, a little later:  “Be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt 5:48)

St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, reiterated the same message:  “This is the will of your Heavenly Father, your sanctification.”

The saints are unanimous in their teaching as well as their having lived out this call to holiness. No surprise, the reality that they indeed are saints!

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed an unchangeable condition for entrance into the Missionaries of Charity— the ardent desire to become saints.   She asserted with firm conviction: “Holiness is not the privilege of the few, but it is the duty of all.”   This is simply another way of expressing the concept of Vatican II’s universal call to holiness.

The recently canonized founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, lamented over many modern crises.  Viewing the world at large full of crises, he stated that the biggest and most serious crisis was the lack of saints!

In catechism classes frequently I challenge children, teens as well as adults to pursue holiness of life and an ardent yearning for sanctity.  I ask the simple question:  “How many of you want to go to heaven?”  All hands shoot up immediately!  Then the following question is:  “How many of you want to become saints?” Very few hands, if indeed any at all, spring to the air!  Pursuing the concept, I point out that God is in heaven, Mary is in heaven, the angels are in heaven, as well as the saints are in heaven.   The conclusion follows: to make it to heaven all of us have to become saints— no exception to the rule is permitted!  Of course it must be explained that most saints are not canonized but anonymous, but still they are saints.

Therefore, starting today, why not make a firm commitment: I will strive with all of the energy in my soul and with the help of God’s grace to become a saint. May Our Lady, Mary Most Holy, the Queen of all of the angels and saints, intercede for me and help me to become the saint that God indeed has called me to become!

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Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

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