• Anne Costa

On this vocation Sunday...

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us that our primary vocation is holiness... and God would not give us such a vocation if He wasn't prepared to help us fulfill it. It's our life's work, for sure, but to grow in holiness means that we truly grow in happiness and contentment, also. The world and the evil one that pollutes it, wants us to believe that to pursue holiness is futile, boring and foolish. But there isn't really anything that will fulfill us more than a daily determination and dedication to become holy, and helping others to do the same.

So, what does holiness look like? Essentially, it looks like Jesus and Mary but what we can do its reflect on their greatest attributes and see where we need to grow to be more like them.

Holiness is Humility in action. Many people misunderstand what humility is. It is the self-knowledge and acceptance of our dignity and ourselves as we truly are; that is, as imperfect, yet unrepeatable beings who are unfathomably loved by their Creator. If we could just let that sink in, then fear and shame would melt away and we wouldn't have to compare ourselves or compete with others for the good things in this life. Instead, we could delight in our giftedness and the unique ways we are loved every single second by our Lord, Savior and Friend. Our lives can be transformed through humility.

Meekness is strength in gentleness.

It reflects a deep desire to submit to the authority and sovereignty of God, from Whom all authentic freedom flows. There is nothing more refreshing than meeting someone who is strong enough in their own self-worth to remain vulnerable under pressure. It’s also rare when we encounter meekness in a person who isn’t ashamed to serve a God that isn't himself!

Unfortunately we live in a culture that completely encourages and affirms the exaltation of the self... where one's own opinions, thoughts, desires, actions, beliefs, version of the truth and subjective experience reign supreme. This is the antithesis of meekness, which makes room for the other, and not only that, is deferential, servant- oriented and very much like Christ who "though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God something to be grasped." (Philippians 2:6). He also implored us: "Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves."

Who among us couldn't use a little rest? Jesus isn't saying this lightly, this is a bona fide PROMISE from him; that if we learn the lesson of meekness we will experience a deep sense of security and abiding peace.

Sacrifice is not very popular these days. Yet, it is the golden key that opens the door to holiness. A selfish heart is closed off and hardened but a heart that is set aglow with the desire to give itself away will never stop expanding and growing in joy. Sacrifice begins with desire and a heart that remains open and receptive. It seeks, even EXPECTS that God is going to shower down His abundant graces. We cannot offer sacrifices without first receiving everything as good that God gives us, then striving to imitate His generosity. St Paul said, for I have learned to be [b]content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things [c]through Him who strengthens me.{Philippians 4: 11-13).

Sacrifice is God-powered and flows from a desire to love Him more and more. True contentment comes from exercising the “muscle” of sacrifice in our lives. Teaching our children this spiritual truth with lead them to live fulfilling and truly successful lives. Let’s bring back the mandate: “OFFER IT UP!”

Love. And the greatest of these attributes of holiness is love. True love desires the highest and best good for the other. In love, we seek a purity of intention for our motives; a self-possession that enables us to freely give ourselves away and continuously commit to console the Heart of Jesus by taking up our crosses and following Him.

A couple of reminders: Holiness is not about perfection or performance, that’s just pride, but it is about perseverance and surrender, which is a great spiritual paradox. The question becomes: how are we supposed to “plow through each day and let go at the same time?”

There is a spiritual saying, often attributed to St. Augustine that goes like this: “ pray or trust as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you.”

The bottom line is holiness is the sum total of “your grit and God’s grace!”

We strive to be holy for one reason only: out of love for Jesus who gave EVERYTHING for us, so get going… be holy!!

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