Vocation to Holiness

Christiane reflects on the call of every Catholic to be saints, and how we can grow in holiness by allowing God’s love to be the centre of our lives.

Westminster Youth Chaplain, Fr David Reilly, blessing one of the SPEC volunteer missionaries
Westminster Youth Chaplain, Fr David Reilly, blessing one of the SPEC volunteer missionaries

If you think that personal holiness means being ranked against others, you are mistaken. If you think it is something which gives you the right to have a date in the calendar of the Church, you are mistaken. If you think it is something that brings with it the power to do miracles, you are mistaken. If you think it means to be looking overjoyed, in a state of godly contentment, you are mistaken. Holiness hasn’t anything to do with the things listed above.

The best way to think about holiness is as the attitude from which, being generous and faithful to grace, returns to God the love that He deposited in our souls. Because of this, if we want to be saints, it is more by God’s providence than by our own initiative. We don’t look for holiness in order to be ambitious, even for want of a fantastic career, but because God wants us to be saints and we praise him when we strive to attain holiness.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

“All Christians, in any state or walk of life, are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

It continues:

“The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes: He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.”

Holiness is individual

The model of all saints is Jesus Christ and only by trying to copy him can we walk in the way to holiness. But this doesn’t mean all of us are bound to be similar. Our Lord calls each of us in a specific way, and each of us answers in our own way.

Young Catholics mingling

By the way, saints don’t simply try to do things that are typically associated with saintliness (like fierce penances, spending whole nights kneeling, miracles, prophecies, ecstasies in prayer); they try to do everything in a specifically holy way: exactly in the way God want them to do.

Holiness, like everything in life, should be seen from the point of view of God and not from the point of view of human beings. We come from God. We exist for Him. Our holiness must come from Him and exist for Him.

Rediscovering our baptism

On the path to holiness, it is necessary to keep in mind the first love we received – the love of God. In his homily for the Easter Vigil, Pope Francis called this meeting with God as our Galilee and he said it is important to return in this place to renew our vocation to be saints.

“For each of us there is a ‘Galilee’” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful; it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light from which God’s grace touched us at the start of our journey. From that flame we can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to our brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy; a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay; a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also another “Galilee”, a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called each of us to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in our hearts the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed our way, gazed at us with mercy and asked us to follow him. To return there means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met ours, the moment when I realized that he loved me.

“Go back to Galilee, without fear!”

An example

One of our spiritual friends is Saint John Paul II. In his life we can better understand what this vocation to be saints means. This little movie can help us in this reflection. What can I do to be a saint?