St. Thérèse of Lisieux once said that holiness “is a disposition of the heart that makes us humble and little in the arms of God.”
St. Thomas Aquinas said that holiness is a virtue “by which our mind applies itself, and all it thinks and does, to God.” The psalmist wrote that holiness means having clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).
It’s so much easier to say what holiness is than to actually become holy, isn’t it? I have been a practicing Catholic all of my life. I have tried hard to be the kind of man God wants me to be. I pray every day, and I go to Mass frequently. But it seems that even after all these years, my life hardly measures up to these descriptions of holiness. At the same time, I am not losing hope. I am being transformed, even if it often seems like two steps forward and one step back.
If you feel the same way about your own life, you shouldn’t lose hope either! Scripture tells us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle between the forces of evil (sin and Satan) and the forces of God (the saints and angels). Scripture also tells us that we can win this battle because the One who is in us is far greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
St. Paul gives us a strategy for winning this battle. He tells us, “Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires. . . and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). This involves trying our best to say no to whatever is opposed to God and yes to everything that will please God. It means saying yes to “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious” (Philippians 4:8).
Grace for the Calling. This call to holiness asks for a strong will and a determined effort on our part. But it also takes grace, something that God is always lavishing on us. His grace never leaves us—and that’s why we should never lose hope!
As you read this issue on the spiritual battle, let me offer you three simple words of advice that have helped me over the years. First, acknowledge that you are in a battle every day. Second, take up the “armor of God”—which we talk about in our second article—every day. Third, be sure to tell yourself that you are God’s treasure. Try to stop what you are doing five or six times a day just to tell yourself, “Jesus loves me. He gave himself up for me. He is my Lord, my Savior, and my best friend.” Just making these little statements of faith will help you hold fast to the truth that Jesus is with you, always ready to help you win the battle.
May God bless you this month. May we all know victory, today and every day, in the call to holiness!
Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]