No Monopoly on Holiness

The Joy of Discipleship by Pope FrancisSometimes the hardest part of the day is getting out of bed. The weight of my anxiety is sometimes so heavy that it paralyzes. There’s so much to do, so much to accomplish, so many people to help, so much that is required of me that staying in bed sounds like a good option, but it’s the biggest barrier to my own greatness.

Some days are worse than others. However, on my good days, instead of using my energy to get myself out of bed, I focus the little attention I have towards a heartfelt prayer. In my deep restlessness, I find myself crying out to the God who gives life: “God, help me, please. Give me the strength, Lord, and help me to face this day with your love. Lord, breathe life into my weary body. Strengthen me, Lord, strengthen me.”

And slowly but surely, I rise with more purpose than I had before.

In his new book, The Joy of Discipleship, Pope Francis writes, “Being holy is not a privilege for the few, as if someone had a large inheritance; in baptism we all have an inheritance, which is the ability to become saints. Holiness is a vocation for everyone.”When the Pope says that “being holy is not a privilege,” he is right. All too often we assume that the call to holiness is only for bishops, priests, nuns, and others in religious life. But what’s interesting about this quote is the word “holy.” Looking up its origin, we find that it comes from the word “whole,” which implies that something profound is missing in our lives when we aren’t holy.

When we associate holiness with the word “whole,” our journeys take on an entirely new meaning. It leads us to profound questions, such as: What is missing in my life? What will fill the void inside of me? What is causing my anxiety and restlessness? No one has a monopoly on these questions. They are questions we are all called to examine.

Such questions remind me of St. Augustine when he wrote prayerfully to God, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” For us Christians, God is the missing piece and we will not be whole until we courageously embrace God. Our sainthood and “wholeness” is something that we must work at continually. God gives us the strength and energy to get started when we feel paralyzed, especially on the days we can barely get out of bed.

Moreover, our pilgrimage to holiness is cooperative and can only be reached when we journey with Christ at the center. We cannot be so silly to think that we can do it alone or that God will do it for us. Only when we journey with God at the center can we be assured that we are moving forward into being the saints that we were meant to become.

Thomas Merton famously wrote, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.” The journey towards holiness is different for everyone, but for those who are interested in taking on their own God-centered challenge with the support of an online Catholic community, check out The Living Person.



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