Holiness is Unique
Holiness is defined beautifully by St. Therese of Lisieux, an amazing Saint and Doctor of the Church, as “[consisting] simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.” Holiness is not achieved by grand acts of life changing service (unless that’s what God wants of you, then please do that) but it is achieved by saying “yes” to whatever His will is in a given moment.
Holiness Looks Different for Everyone
This definition of holiness proves that there is no one way to be holy. There is no cookie-cutter version of holiness. If God was calling us to holiness in the same way, He would have created us to be the same. He created us all to be unique with our own holiness that should look completely different from somebody else’s.
“For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another,” Romans 12:4-5.
God created each and every one of us to be different, to have different traits, to have different talents, to glorify him differently. He doesn’t want us to be the same or try to be the same. His will for all of us is unique and complex. He has a desire for us to love one another, love Him, and follow His will. His will may desire you to serve and love Him through small things such as having intentional conversations with new people or visiting Adoration twenty minutes before class. He may desire you to serve in another country as a missionary or give up your life to the priesthood or religious life. Listening to God’s will and acting upon it with fervent love is the key to holiness.
Living Out Holiness
While holiness can be seen on the exterior, it begins in the interior. Holiness is the small “yes” given to God in the innermost parts of our hearts that is seen and delighted in by our Lord. Maybe the side effect of some peoples’ holiness includes being a Catholic Instagram influencer or having 20 Saint keychains or all of the lovely Cowboy Catholics stickers on everything they own, but holiness does not rely on these things.
In Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), he says “Needless to say, anything done out of anxiety, pride or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness.” If our actions are meant to please the world and to impress people by our “holiness” instead of pleasing God with our simple and humble “yes,” it is not holiness; it is pride.
Though, this does not mean we shouldn’t live out our holiness within the world. It does not mean that we should run away and be a hermit. St. John Paul II, one of the greatest popes, said, “True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the gospel in everyday life.” Living our holiness out in the world is crucial to become the hands and feet of Jesus, bringing His love to the hearts of those who need it.
Holiness is Fueled by Prayer
In “Gaudete et Exsultate” Pope Francis said, “I do not believe in holiness without prayer, even though that prayer need not be lengthy or involve intense emotions.” Conversation with God, prayer, is the most essential thing in discerning His will. If we cannot understand His will for us, how are we to find the path he wants us to take, the path to holiness? Our prayer does not have to look like a prescribed list of prayers or a routine taken from somebody else. Forms of prayer are vast and varied, and these different types of prayer exist to allow everybody to talk to God and give Him everything in different ways. You may or may not love journaling or Lectio Devina or praise and worship, and that is okay! Your cup of tea may not be everybody else’s because your holiness is UNIQUE! It is beautiful! It is yours.
Examples of Holiness
We can see holiness through our Saints which we get to celebrate on All Saints Day. If you take a look at the lives of the saints, you will see the vast difference in their lives.
For example, St. Therese became a nun, and she loved everybody she met and lived out her holiness in a cloistered convent.
St. Monica fervently prayed for the conversion of her son through intense intercessory prayer.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote extremely philosophical and intelligent works about the church.
St. Joseph of Cupertino simply prayed to pass his tests.
The way these saints dedicated their lives to God are vastly different. They are all great Saints. Our call to holiness is not supposed to look like everybody else. If everybody’s holiness looked the same, it would be a boring venture. Though, in reality this is the most exciting adventure we can take part in.
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement,” – St. Augustine of Hippo.
Holiness, finding God and following His will, is the greatest human achievement that we can reach. The Saints we celebrate have achieved that and showed us that it is possible. It takes prayer. It takes love. It takes millions of small “yeses,” but it’s possible. That is what God is constantly calling us to and desires for each of His children, no matter the path He sets out for them.
-Ask yourself, “What does my holiness look like?”
-Think about your answer in perspective of your relationship, identity, and mission.
-What does your relationship with God look like? A father, brother, friend, bridegroom?
-What is your identity through Christ that you were created for?
-What does that identity mean for my mission: God’s will for me?
-That mission is to be holy. Follow His will, and you will find only joy and holiness. Take His invitation, and say yes.