“Do not be afraid to be holy! Have the courage and humility to present yourselves to the world determined to be holy, since full, true freedom is born from holiness. (Pope St. John Paul II).
in it we find people, in people we find identity, in identity we find uniqueness, and in that? In that we find the reality of being a self in the midst of other selves. Authentic persons will always create ripples of difference in a community of individuals who by their nature are one of a kind. This is good, it means there is opportunity for communion because if a person only had sameness to offer there would be no room for real communion to take place.
By looking at life through this lens, it seems our Creator had a design in mind when he brought us into being. God inserted, within us, a divine potential to become; not only “the best version of ourselves” as Matthew Kelly would put it, but more than that the holiest version of ourselves. We were called to be holy, just as our Heavenly Father is holy.(1 Peter 1:15). But we were meant to fulfill this high call along side humanity; in community.
How do we accomplish the call to holiness? The simple answer is imitate Christ while remaining true to oneself (not as easy as it sounds). St. Columcile had a short and sweet way of saying it, “be always transparent and authentic in imitation of Christ”. The greater answer would be union with Christ, divine communion, our reception of Jesus entirely as he is Body, Blood Soul and Divinity. This union is our foundation for the imitation that follows.
What did Christ teach except LOVE??? He himself lived it in a perfect communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. A communion we desire to be a part of and at the same time recreate in our relationship with the world. This Trinitarian love can engage our hearts as well, this occurs in the intimacy of prayer, in solitude. It is almost a stepping into the silence of the desert as Jesus did in order to prepare our hearts and minds for the journey of holiness we will then have to undertake in the world. God moves in our lives and goes were we go assuming we are headed to where He is found.
Allowing God to move in and around us is allowing him to create ripples of love within us. Our part in this ripple is a simple consent to his promptings. As the Apostles remind us in the book of Acts: ” In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). But we sometimes question “is it possible for this love to be recreated in us?” Again, the answer to this question is found in the silence of the heart. A time of solitude and communion with the Real God before entering into the time of communion with the world; this requires the quieting of our inner self. A little bit of us and a lot of God is the perfect antidote.
A kind of newness is the result of this inner relationship with God. If the heart has become familiar with Jesus then His Spirit has become familiar and consistently active within the heart. Our communion with him then is best measured by our communion with one another. There is really no measure that can satisfy the authentic participation we have in the Trinitarian family but a glimpse into its fruits is found in our relation with others.
This is where the virtues of love are tested; in the waters of relationship. We live charity only if we have someone to live it with, charity is a selfless act meaning it can never be directed to oneself. It is an outward expression of love. This is why we will never reach holiness without community. We cannot practice virtue if we do not have a soundboard that will absorb it.
We can hate someone one day and love them the next. The gifts, talents, and virtues of a person can lead us to gratitude for their strengths but can also be the cause of envy and jealousy. Likewise the failures, imperfections, and particulars of a person can lead to growth in virtue upon every interaction with them but it can also be the cause of hate and vice. We build each other up and we tear each other down. But every interaction with another is an opportunity for growth in holiness. The growth occurs in ways we don’t prefer sometimes but overall it is set forth by God. People will push our weaknesses and test our strengths. They will engage us with lack of virtue at times but they also approach us with holiness of virtue and these become moments of growth for us. Like wise our imperfect engagement with others challenges them to a greater response of charity. Every opportunity is a chance to perfect the virtues that lead to holiness. This exchange of human efforts and failures is the key to united love and God is the source from which we gather strength to continue on our effort, until we reach that point of perfection in holiness.
Mother Teresa says: “Don’t expect your friend to be a perfect person but help your friend to become a perfect person.”
“Conversion is the matter of a moment, sanctification is the matter of a lifetime” -St. Josemaria Escriba