holiness

Asceticism and holiness

In my last post, I claimed that holiness is nothing more and nothing less than abandoning your life to God. It’s not just giving yourself to Him, it’s giving yourself so completely that you are no longer your own. Your cares and worries are no longer yours to deal with. Your time, your talents, your possessions, are not yours anymore. Your will belongs to Him (though it is actually more perfectly yours in this free gift).

So what’s the point of lent then? Why bother with fasting, prayer and almsgiving? Aren’t these an attempt at making ourselves holy? Or even at saving ourselves?

They can be, if we do them incorrectly. But done right, they are precisely the training we need in self-abandonment.

We fast in order to remove the ways we rely on ourselves. We make food and other material things – things we can control – into our happiness, our comfort, and our source of strength. When we remove this, we are forced to look elsewhere.

When we pray, we are then filling that void in the way it was designed to be fulfilled. We place ourselves in God’s hands, where we belong, for Him to be our joy, our security and our strength. If we fast but don’t pray, we will certainly find another false god to fill the void. We will make ourselves a golden calf, because we can control idols.

Finally, we give alms, because we are no longer concerned for ourselves, and are now concerned with giving ourselves to God, who loves and lives in our brothers and sisters. His love is being made the source of our lives, and so we must give ourselves up to this love ever more fully. If we refuse, we refuse to be His. If we fast and pray, but don’t give alms, we are deluding ourselves. If we fast and pray but don’t give alms, the God we pray to is imaginary. He is just an idol in our heads.

Lent is a time of dying to self, and learning to belong to God. Our lenten practices earn us nothing. They accomplish nothing. But they are that death to self that gains God Himself.

God bless you!

The only sin is failing to trust God

Holiness means abandoning yourself to God. If we look at the life of any saint and ask what makes him/her a saint, we will always find it is because they handed themselves over to God, placing themselves in His hands and not their own. This abandonment of self is what drove St. Francis’s poverty, St. Ignatius’s obedience, St. Therese’s confidence, the chastity of the holy virgins, the courage of the martyrs, Mary’s fiat, and Jesus’s whole life and death upon the cross.

I don’t think there is anything more to it. We must abandon ourselves entirely to Him: our desires, our wills, our happiness, our security, our struggles, our fears, our loved ones, our futures, our pasts, our weaknesses, our strengths, our ideas, our beliefs, our good deeds, our sins, our salvation, and our everything else. That is it. Everything else is contained in this.

If we fail, then we must get up right away, and hand this failure over to Him also. We have to entrust to Him our failures to trust Him. Place everything right away in the hands of His merciful love.

And if we fall greatly, over and over again, we still can’t be discouraged. The only sin is failure to trust God. His mercy is always greater; He is always trustworthy; He is our Father, and we are His children.

In this self-abandonment, we are surrendered to God’s love for us revealed upon the cross, and we are united to Jesus’s total abandonment to the Father upon the cross.

God bless you!

“My little method consists in this”

‘On a similar occasion she told me, “It fills me with joy to have been imperfect; today God has granted me great graces; it has been a profitable day indeed…”

‘When I asked how anyone could entertain such noble sentiments, she answered, “My little method consists in this–rejoicing always and continually smiling–in times of defeat as well as victory.”‘

-from My Sister, Saint Thérèse, by Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face (Celine Martin)

Happy Feast Day!

St Therese, pray for us

What is a Saint?

A Saint is a sinner who realises God’s love for them. I.e. God’s love becomes a reality for them and in them. It is made real in them. His love is their reality.

We are all loved by God, however bad we are, however religious we are, however successful we are, and even however “holy” we are. The only difference in the Saints, is that they realise how loved, how truly holy, every one of us is. They are enlightened by the truth of the gospel, and made radiant by that same truth living in them.

A Saint is not good in or of themselves. Their only goodness is the free love of God, moving through them like the wind. They hold no goodness of their own, but let His good gifts come via them. They are immersed in living waters, never stagnant.

The Saint is a sinner who is simply who they are. They are no one else and nothing more. They are this fully, because they are loved as this and loved into this, and so are this in perfect freedom.

The Saint is a sinner who stops trying. Stops trying to impress, to make their own way through life, to earn happiness or love. Even stops trying to achieve salvation. They abandon all this, because they know their Father will provide everything.

A Saint is a sinner who never stops trying. They never stop trying to please God, because they know His love, and know that He will give them the victory. They have no care to earn heaven, and for this very reason, have every desire to express it.

Ladies and gentlemen, stop wasting your lives and abandon yourselves completely to His merciful love! Are you unworthy? Are you too sinful? He died on a cross for love of you in your entirety, sin and all! Nothing is greater than His love for you. Nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth can keep you from His love for you. What are you waiting for?!

(you don’t have to look this cool to be a Saint, but it doesn’t hurt either ;)

God bless you

I am not the Christ

‘And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.’
[Jn 1:19–20 (D-R)]

John the Baptist’s self identity was simply ‘I am not the Christ.’ Who are you? Not the Christ.

There is a strong human tendency to believe that I am the Christ, and it is expressed in the most materialistic and most “spiritual” tendencies of humanity. I think as if I am the solution/saviour of the world.

I am not the Christ.

I suppose I have to do it myself, figure out the problems, answer the questions, heal the wounds. Either because I am so very good and holy, or because I am all we’ve got. Either way, it is the same essential pride.

I am not the Christ.

I am not the solution. I am not the answer. I am not the saviour.

I am not the Christ.

The truth is, I am the problem; I am the question; I am the… savee? [is there a word for one in need of saving?]

Jesus is the Christ, and I am the one in need of the Christ.

Because I am the problem, I will be solved. Because I am the question, I will be answered. Because I mourn, I will laugh. Because I am poor, I will be rich. Because I am not the Christ, I can receive the Christ entirely.

I am not the Christ.

This is what Christian holiness is. It is an absolute refusal to look to our own strength, wisdom, or goodness, which are each less than nothing, and instead abandoning ourselves entirely to God. He alone is our strength, our wisdom, and our goodness.

We are united to Him, because we are not Him. If we are not Him, we will be One with Him, as the Father and the Son are One. If we are Him, we will be utterly apart from Him.

Who am I? I am not the Christ.

God bless you.

Do you let his fire inflame your heart?

‘We need to remember that “contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ”. So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.’
-Gaudete et Exsultate n. 151

You need to see the entirety of your life as a mission

‘This is a powerful summons to all of us. You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.’
Pope Francis, Gaudete et exsultate n. 23

God bless you!