Holiness cannot be pursued on our own, but is made possible by the love of the Father, the cross of Christ and the constant help of the Spirit working in us. Hence, we see that apart from God, Holiness is impossible, and that it consists of abiding in His love and mercy. By virtue of our baptism we have been grafted onto Jesus the vine, and so we are His branches.
We often tend to face the world thinking that we are just like any other plant, perhaps even a weed that has to find its own nutrition, set out fresh roots and face the days’ heat and dryness on our own. The truth is, we are no longer on our own. We are no longer left to our own devices (Ephesians. 1:1-14).
“We are joined to the Vine from whom we draw our nourishment, by whom we bear fruit and without which we cannot survive.”
Looking at it from God’s perspective, our way of life and purpose of living it is quite clear. God’s life flows in us and bears fruit, and it’s not our doing, but His. For each of us, God presents us with a path that will best mold us into Jesus. This is first decided when we choose our vocation, which is why it is not something we take lightly. Our vocation is our means to holiness. As we live out that vocation we have more specific commitments that we make, that fine tune or bring about order in the way God shares His life of holiness with us. For us, a primary means, after discerning our vocation, is the covenant we have made to be a part of this community. If we have taken our path of holiness, it is outlined in the covenant. If we want to evaluate how faithful we are to the call to holiness we need to look at how faithful we have been to our covenant. Our covenant, if lived faithfully and with increasing depth prepares the ground for God to manifest His holiness in and through our lives and sanctify us.
Our covenant covers 4 areas
- Relationship with God (Without an interior life, we cannot live an exterior life of holiness ~ St. José Maria Escriva)
- Relationship with family (“As the family goes, so goes the nation and goes the whole world in which we live~ JP II. Authentic change will be recognizable by those closest to us who know us well.)
- Community Life (God has called us to communion to establish His Kingdom. We cannot make significant lasting change alone. Community is where we grow and serve.)
- Being a witness (We become witnesses only of what we have seen, experienced, touched and felt. 1 John 1:10 “If we have not allowed God into certain areas to really be the Lord we will not be able to be effective witnesses. We will instead tend to compartmentalize our lives.”)
Do we see our covenant as a recommended guideline or just a set of rules? Or has it caused us to focus on those things in our lives that really matter and change the way we approach them?
The more we acquire grace by the partaking of spiritual disciplines, the more we will see ourselves faithfully live out our call to perfect love of God and neighbor and continue to manifest the fruit of the spirit in our lives.
Holiness is not achieved overnight. If we look at the lives of our saints, among other things there was one quality that we can’t overlook. It was that they lived disciplined lives. If we closely analyze our life, we see that we are living a very cluttered life and lack discipline. We are living busy lives moving from one activity to another with little or no time left to even pray. On another note, some of us will be able to identify with the fact that our walk down the path to holiness is short lived. The high after a retreat/ conference etc. moves us to make a change, but a week later the business of life takes priority.
We can learn from the words of
Contrary to popular opinion, discipline doesn’t restrict the person, nor is it something invented by the church to control the masses. Rather, discipline is like a faithful friend who will introduce you to your true self, defend you from your lesser self and will challenge you to become all that God created you to be.
Even famous musicians like Mozart or sportsmen like Michael Jordan were first disciplined before becoming geniuses. In the same way, in our lives, first comes discipline then comes holiness.
However, the presence of discipline in our lives is dwindling and as we can see, without it we are becoming spiritually ill as we are not able to persevere in our path towards holiness. A lack of discipline is a serious obstacle to holiness.
To rectify this, cultivating discipline so that our lives are orderly, both personally and in the community, will prepare our hearts to receive the grace that God desires us to receive. A few steps to a more disciplined life:
- Figure out a “SPIRITUAL GAMEPLAN”. Emphasize on personal prayer and the sacraments.
- Create a rough schedule for yourself which includes spending quality time with family as well as time serving your brethren.
- Set boundaries for yourself regarding work timings, watching TV, sleeping, partying and time on social media.
- Have another member of the community hold you accountable.
If we sincerely wish to follow Jesus, it is only natural to ask: Who have been his greatest followers? Who have thrived by following Him? Who has walked this path successfully before us? The answer, of course, would be the Saints.
However, they have become unpopular and we have stopped reading their stories. These are men and women who have gone before us who serve as guides by the lessons their lives exude. Pope Saint Clement I said,
“Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints”.
A great place to begin our path to holiness would be to look to the saints, read their stories, imitate them and pray to them to help us in this journey they have successfully pursued.