Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

11/20/2009 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A lack of concern for holiness resides at the very heart of what’s gone wrong in our Nation.It is vital that we recognize the need to seek, return to, and embrace holiness.

Holiness is the remedy which heals, strengthens, bonds, and brings about a great measure of the peace for which our hearts so ardently long.

Holiness is the remedy which heals, strengthens, bonds, and brings about a great measure of the peace for which our hearts so ardently long.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/20/2009 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


GLADE PARK, Colorado (Catholic Online) - On November 21, 1964, Vatican II promulgated the ‘Dogmatic Constitution On The Church’. In this document, Lumen Gentium, there is a wealth of fruitful information with which every Christian ought to be familiar. Chapter V is titled ‘The Call To Holiness’, which is of particular relevance, especially in light of a society rife with moral issues. It is vital that we recognize the need to seek, return to, and embrace a life directed toward holiness; for lack of concern for holiness resides at the very heart of what’s gone wrong in our Nation.

Consider for a moment the issue of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. While a pro-life momentum has developed in the U.S., – one which has resulted in the majority favoring a reduction in the number of abortions – the country is, nevertheless, according to a 2009 Pew Forum survey, "evenly divided on the question" as to whether abortion should remain legal (pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=441). It is quite revealing to find that so many men and women who certainly value their own lives remain convinced that there are others whose lives are of no value whatsoever. Can we say that these people take the call to holiness seriously?

Further, let us examine the issue of Catholic or other Christian politicians who are obstinately fixed in their "pro-choice" conviction – bear in mind these same politicians were elected by a people who largely claim to be Christian. These anti-life adherents voice many excuses for their actions: "I’m opposed to abortion, but I can’t deny a woman’s right to choose"; or, "I understand your concerns, but we have to find common ground." I doubt our little unborn brothers and sisters found comfort in the morally bankrupt ramifications of "common ground" when they were surgically dismembered or poisoned in the womb, violently evicted from their first home, and harshly discarded without even a decent burial.

One has only to glance at the moral state of our Nation, considering what people hold dear, emphasize, talk about, and vote for, in order to conclude that many have failed to recognize the obligation to seek holiness. And it is truly an obligation; that is, the call to holiness is not merely an option for those who desire to love God. We either love God or we love "the earthly city" built "by love of self to the exclusion of God", as St. Augustine wrote. The call to holiness is a universal call from Christ himself; the avoidance or rejection of such a call is to erect an earthly city made of the mud and dirt of the world, one which is unholy and unacceptable to God.

"Brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).

We need to "renew" our minds, embracing a holy way – distinct from the baseness of the world – of thinking and perceiving, directing our thoughts and actions toward the will of Christ; we need to assent to the light of truth, which is to intently, with fervor and love, focus on holiness. Christ calls us to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt. 5:48). We are called to perfection. We are obliged to holiness.

In 1993, in his Encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendour of Truth), John Paul II noted the necessity of being obedient to the truth in order to become holy: "Called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ ‘the true light that enlightens everyone’ (Jn 1:9), people become ‘light in the Lord’ and ‘children of light’ (Eph 5:8), and are made holy by ‘obedience to the truth’" (1 Pet 1:22; VS, introduction).

To be obedient to the truth is to be obedient to all that Christ uttered, it is to believe and live by what the Holy Spirit revealed to the apostles; it is to assent with one’s mind and heart to Sacred Tradition, Holy Scripture, and the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Catholic Church which God willed should exist. Holiness calls for obedience; and, to be sure, holiness is a way of life; it is to gaze upon the Holy Spirit each moment, intently, uniting our will to the will of God. Those who thirst for holiness exercise great care in living by love: they love Christ, they love the Catholic Church he founded two-thousand years ago, and they cherish deeply the words of truth transmitted to the nations by that Church. Lumen Gentium teaches that, as the Church is unfailingly holy, all Christians in the Church are called to holiness.

"The Church, . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her (cf. Eph. 5:25-26); he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. Therefore all in the Church, whether they belong to the hierarchy or are cared for by it, are called to holiness, according to the apostle’s saying: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification’" (1 Th. 4:3; cf. Eph. 1:4; LG, 39).

Vatican II reminds us of the obligations of submission to authentic teaching and practicing the Faith in our daily lives: "For [the] bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice" (LG, 25; emphasis added).

A true return to authentic holiness is the answer to the many ailments which plague us. Holiness is the remedy which heals, strengthens, bonds, and brings about a great measure of the peace for which our hearts so ardently long; for in holiness we embrace Christ. A community whose will is directed toward holiness is one moving into greater union with God, the source of all happiness. Uniting our wills to God’s brings about the "fullness of Christian life" and "the perfection of love", which is, in reality, the truly "human manner of life"; that is, we are not fully human unless we live steeped in the call to holiness.

"It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society" (LG, 40).

Holiness requires obedience to the truth; therefore it is certain that a prerequisite for holiness is obedience to the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church. One cannot be holy and, at the same time, live in dissent with Christ’s Bride. Rejecting the Church while we sail along on our journey toward holiness is akin to blasting a hole in the bottom of the very ship in which we are sailing! Yet, while we know in our hearts that we must live by the truth, many find such a way of life difficult or unpalatable. The late Pope John Paul II reminds us of the need to combat disobedience, lest we exchange "the truth about God for a lie".

"This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging "the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25). Man's capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself" (VS, introduction).

Further, it is not by our own strength that we achieve any measure of holiness, but by giving ourselves entirely to Christ. Our Lord is our strength: it is from the Vine that we gather nourishment. It is by uniting our will to God that we walk along in perfection, as the Lord Jesus is the "divine teacher and model of all perfection" (cf. LG, 40).

"The followers of Christ, called by God not in virtue of their works but by his design and grace, and justified in the Lord Jesus, have been made sons of God in the baptism of faith and partakers of the divine nature, and so are truly sanctified. They must therefore hold on to and perfect in their lives that sanctification which they have received from God. They are told by the apostle to live ‘as is fitting among saints’ (Eph. 5:3), and to put on ‘as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience’ (Col. 3:12), to have the fruits of the Spirit for their sanctification" (cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 6:22).

Through his Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection Christ has given us many unfathomable gifts. One could spend an entire lifetime contemplating such wonders and yet barely scratch the surface of their loving dimensions. We have indeed been elevated to an exalted status by the special grace of Christ. Justice demands that we love our Lord for what he has done, for who he is, for his gifts freely given.

"All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged." (LG, 14).

We are called to holiness. To attain it requires that we respond to Christ’s grace. Love whispers, Love beckons, Love rains down from the heights, showering God’s children with spiritual nourishment and consolation, that they may attain to sanctity; that they may hear, embrace, and live the call to holiness.

"The forms and tasks of life are many but holiness is one – that sanctity which is cultivated by all who act under God’s Spirit and, obeying the Father’s voice and adoring God the Father in spirit and truth, follow Christ, poor, humble and cross-bearing, that they may deserve to be partakers of his glory" (LG, 41).

-----

F. K. Bartels operates catholicpathways.com, and may be reached via email: bartels@catholicpathways.com. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Weakness and Failure in the Christian Life. We Hold This Treasure in Earthen Vessels Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I have been reflecting upon my own weakness a lot these days. I have discovered that the older I get the less I know and the more imperfections I discover in myself. As a younger man, I labored under a misconception that living the Christian life would somehow ... continue reading


Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


International community has done too little in Syria and Iraq, Cardinal Vegliò declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò met with Pope Francis last week. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Cardinal Vegliò me to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter