"I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness."Did you read that? All pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness. Our wonderful Pope, John Paul the Great, was writing to the universal church stating that all pastoral initiative must be set in relation to holiness.
How much have you heard about holiness at your parish? Do Catholics really know that they are called to be holy? Why aren't we hearing about this kind of thing more?
Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' ~ Luke 13:23-27How many times have we passed this passage by and ignored it or shoved it aside because it was too difficult? How can getting to heaven be hard? Especially when we have all these sacraments and this apparent "formula" for getting to heaven. Yet here we hear about people eating and drinking in His company and Jesus teaching in their streets. Is this not exactly what we are getting at each mass? Jesus is addressing this to members of His Church - and telling them that the way is narrow and many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough - and simply showing up at mass two times a year, every Sunday or even every day is not enough.
What does Jesus mean when he says that we are not strong enough? Many protestants believe that they don't have to do anything once they "are saved", why would they have to be strong to enter heaven? Many Catholics believe that simply observing the sacraments, if even in a mechanical way, gets them to heaven, what does that have to do with being strong?
The fact is, both erroneous "beliefs" have nothing to do with being strong. There is something more needed. And the Bible tells us what that is:
This is the will of God, your holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who (also) gives his holy Spirit to you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3a,8The word "holiness" actually in a way means "strength" or "stability". Being holy is being strong, and this is the strength we need to enter heaven.
How do we become holy? It’s a process. We need to pursue God with our whole heart, persevering in prayer and working to grow both in love for Him and in virtue. Pursuing God alone will not gain us the strength we need to enter heaven; we cannot make ourselves holy. But it does demonstrate to God that we love him, that we truly want to be holy, and He then will give us what we need in our lives to make us holy, and the grace to become holy, and the therefore the strength to open the gate.
I found a wonderful series of talks, provided (partially) for free by the National Fellowship of Catholic Men and the Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh, concerning St. John of the Cross and his collected writings. St. John of the Cross wrote four works which all concern growing in holiness. John Paul II was profoundly influenced by this great doctor of the church. This is required listening.
- Talk 1 of 6: Transformation in Christ - A Saint for the New Millennium: the Life, Work and Vision of St. John of the Cross
- Talk 2 of 6: Transformation in Christ - Beginning the Journey: Our Response to God's Call
- Talk 3 of 6: Transformation in Christ - The Providential Role of Trials and Dryness
- Talk 4 of 6: Transformation in Christ - Our Response to Spiritual Blessings
- Transformation in Christ - The Remaining Talks (Discs 5 and 6)
The last two talks you have to buy. The six disc set is $30 including shipping and handling. I think if you just start listening to the series you will realize what a deal this is.
Please pray for me that I may grow in holiness, and for all Catholics to take up this universal call to holiness.