Thursday, June 7, 2007

How can I be holy if I am so weak and full of mistakes?

You and I, as everybody else, are called to holiness.

This is an established fact in Catholic doctrine. Now the question is: How can I be a saint, even commanded to be holy, if I am so weak and full of mistakes?

Benedict XVI answered this in 2002, on the 100th anniversary of St. Josemaria's birth. Still a cardinal, Ratzinger said that it was precisely Escriva who corrected the mistaken notion that holiness is "reserved for some extraordinary people" who are "completely different from ordinary sinners like us."

"To be holy," stated Cardinal Ratzinger, "does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy."

If you examine the first homily in St. Josemaria's first collection of homilies, Christ is Passing By, the founder of Opus Dei comments on the "encouraging" fact that the first people whom Jesus called to holiness "were nothing to boast about." The Twelve Apostles weren't educated. They weren't even bright. They weren't even simple or open. They had little faith. Then they faced obstacles that well up in the heart of all men: selfishness, lust, greed.

With so much weakness and real obstacles, how can we be holy?

It's interesting to note that St. Josemaria spends two entire sections in this homily to discuss a key point which Ratzinger summarized as letting the Other work. The over-arching principle for holiness, according to St. Josemaria is God's mercy: "It is under the 'umbrella' of God's mercy," he says, "that Christian existence should develop." Thus he urged us "to implore divine mercy," and to pray: "O my God, I trust in you."

Opus Dei's emphasis on the universal call to holiness, an integral part of Catholic teaching, hinges on the mercy of God who has the intent and the power to sanctify us.

Only God can make us holy. Because he, the Infinite Good, is the only source of goodness. The Only One, says Benedict XVI, who can really make the world both good and happy.

Thus, we poor creatures, full of mistakes and weaknesses, can only bank on his goodness, his Mercy.

It is then logical that God, after bringing about a world-wide awareness of the universal call to holiness, brought about a new world-wide devotion to the Divine Mercy. This is now a devotion officially endorsed by the whole Church, even established as a liturgical date on the Second Sunday of Easter!

Through the diaries of St. Faustina Helena Kowalska, we learn to plead to God:
Jesus, I trust in you.

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Through Opus Dei, we learn of the Catholic insistence on "frequent confession", of going to the sacrament of Divine Mercy, to receive God's help and direction.

We learn that it is through spending time in prayer at specific moments of the day, that we speak to God as to a friend, that we allow God to work. By finding time for God in prayer and living in God's presence in all the ordinary situations of each day, we then can convert our work and daily life into prayer. That's sanctity: when we are in God, and God in us all day long. When we work for God, and God works through us to reach others. When we become his instruments, despite all our weaknesses and mistakes. When we allow God to work our self-transformation, and the transformation of the world. Sanctity is God's work.

"Truly we are all capable, we are all called to open ourselves up to this friendship with God," said Benedict XVI, "to not leave the hands of God, to not neglect to turn and return to the Lord, speaking with him as if speaking with a friend, knowing well that the Lord really is a true friend of everyone, including those who cannot do great things by themselves."

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