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Monday, August 22, 2016

Holiness - The Struggle is Real

The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines Holiness in this way:

... among creatures they are holy by their relation to God. Holiness in creatures is either subjective or objective or both. It is subjective essentially by the possession of divine grace and morally by the practice of virtue. Objective holiness in creatures denotes their exclusive consecration to the service of God: priests by their ordination, religious by their vows, sacred places, vessels, and vestments by the blessing they receive and the sacred purpose for which they are reserved.


I asked a question on Facebook the other day about holiness, essentially questioning my friends about what they think keeps them from achieving it.  The answers were surprisingly frank and can be summed up in a one word answer:  ME!  Almost everyone who answered gave a variation on this theme:  if I am being kept from holiness I have no one but myself to blame.

That gives me hope.  It gives me hope because it shows that the majority of the people I have in my life today look to themselves first before they start blaming or pointing fingers.  Oh look, we're far from perfect.  There is still the occasional member of the Piety Police who has no trouble pointing to the splinter in their neighbor's eye or cannot resist telling us that, while they have taken responsibility for their actions it sure would be nice if the ex-husband or the adult child or that pesky neighbor would follow their example.  I myself have been a card-carrying member of that group and it took me a long time to be able to make an amends to someone that did not sound like "I am really, really sorry YOU made ME act like a jerk".

I know that my biggest character defect is my wish to be loved.  This is different from the traditional people-pleasing claim made by some (mostly new) members of the 12 step meetings I attend.  I want to be loved, but I want to be able to live my life the way I want to live it.  I don't want to have to go out of my way to actually DO something you might find pleasing, I just want you to be pleased with me. 

This character defect has thwarted my serenity and caused me more personal pain than any other sin I have committed.  The error of taking my eyes off the prize - off of Salvation - has resulted in loneliness, sleepless nights, anger and feelings of rejection.  It has caused me to lash out when I think I have been wronged and has made me regret my past.  The fear that I will be forgotten or unloved has been the root of most of my troubles.

This struggle to turn over an aspect of my personality that causes me so much pain is probably that which keeps me closest to God.  I am fully aware of my inability to be in close communion with my Creator because of  my need for the praise and love of creatures.  I also know that by acknowledging that struggle I am declaring victory for the Creator when it comes to my life.

I want to be in full communion with God and, therefore, fully human.  I want my will and my life to be something He uses only for His glory and the salvation of souls.  The fact that I also want my neighbors to think I am the friendliest woman on the block or my co-workers to see me as a paragon of virtue reminds me that I have not yet achieved my goal.  It keeps me going, makes me yearn and motivates me to do things I wouldn't otherwise think are important.  I wouldn't partake frequently of the Sacraments.  I wouldn't need them.  I would just 'be saved' and so fine just on my own.

'Just on my own' is a dangerous place to be for someone like me.

The struggle for holiness is a daily struggle.  It involves the whole of the human - body, mind and spirit - and must be something tangible in order for it to be fruitful.  I suspect that every day I tackle the task of being the best Me I can be is another chance for me to draw closer to my Creator.

I believe that the day I decide I no longer have to work at being a good Catholic is the day the gulf between me and God will widen enough to allow me to start inching away from His Church.  And if I do that, I run the risk of being one of those people calling, 'Lord, Lord' at the end of time and not being recognized.  I don't want that to happen.

The struggle for holiness for this girl is real.  It makes her life worthwhile. 

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