As I was taking one of my usual, power-naps so as to gear up for the rest of my day, for some reason the word, ”holiness” crept to the forefront of my mind. And, as I reflected on this, it occurred to me that “holiness” is a task or quest we must all venture upon. Yet, holiness is an elusive thing! The moment you think you have obtained it, is the moment you have lost it. Like humility, the moment you have found it, is the point at which you have misplaced it, as a sort of spiritual pride sets in. Trying to achieve either holiness or humility is sort of like grasping at the air. It’s slips between our fingers, yet we know it is real and a possibility at hand.
Holiness, then is not so much a goal to be gained or a contest to be won as it is a journey to be walked or a conversation to be talked, as we not “let our left hand know what our right hand is doing.” Like the air that moves around us or the light that is reflected off a person who is holy, it is more a sense of being and not a place we can point at or a specific thing we can grasp for our self. And yet, isn’t holiness an important part of carrying our cross and following Christ?
Holiness, I believe, is more a result of a Christ-like life in which we strive to grow where we are planted, while embracing the mystery of God in one’s self, and the mystery of Christ to all those we encounter. So, how do we arrive at such a state as if I could call it that during Lent?
First, I think, is to step out in faith and commit our self to a life in Jesus, a life that will not be fully realized until we enter heaven with God himself. Yet, it’s the journey not the destination that is more important to us. Secondly, it’s trusting that if we constantly strive to be better and do better without looking too much at our past (whether good or bad), learn from our mistakes and grow from our success, so we move forward in our communication with God. Thirdly, it’s joining with others on this journey, since holiness is never something we do by our self. It does not exist in a vacuum! Any form of authentic Christian spirituality cannot be done in total isolation! Those who claim to be Baptized and who also claim to find enough in God by simply going out in nature and never gathering as a Body in Christ at worship and praise and (for us as Catholics) also receiving the sacraments are deceiving themselves. What they have is something, but it is not Christianity of any kind! Holiness requires both an effort on our part, and yet resignation to others and the grace of God at work in us, a grace which dictates its own form and pace in us.
In Lent we are called to make that genuine effort in our growth toward holiness, and yet we know it is all by God’s will and time. Like learning how to play a guitar, the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn and yet at each step there is a kind of music (from simple to complex) that can make a wonderful sound. Happy soul-searching and so much for my power-nap in Christ!