Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Path to Holiness


Through God's grace, disciples grow into "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13), and when we cooperate with God's grace to grow in holiness, we are brought into a union of heart and mind with the Lord Jesus. "This union is called 'mystical' because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the Sacraments — 'the holy mysteries' — and, in Him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with Him…" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2014)

Disciples are not content to live what Pope John Paul II calls a "life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethics and a shallow religiosity" (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 31). Genuine disciples are spiritual heroes; they come to see that the primary purpose of their lives is to seek holiness: "This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and "You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

The call to holiness is not just for priests, monks, and nuns. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, "all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity." (Lumen Gentium, 40) Pope John Paul II reminds us that "this ideal of perfection must not be understood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few 'uncommon heroes' of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual." (Novo Millenio Ineunte, 31)

In other words, the path to holiness will look very different for a lay person living in the world than it will for a nun living in a monastery or a priest living in a rectory. It will also take different forms for different people depending on their state in life (married, single, widowed, etc.) and their unique personalities, gifts, and temperaments. For every person, though, the only way that we can know true freedom is in perfect obedience of faith to the Lord Jesus and His Gospel. Evangelical freedom is not the license to do whatever we want; it is the liberty to do everything we should. And while following Christ and obeying His Gospel requires discipline, the fruit of discipleship is not hardship, it is the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. 

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