Blog # 403 Personal holiness
The angels singing around the throne of God in Isaiah 63 sang "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts". That would be a good place to start in establishing a definition of holiness. We must remember, however that whenever and whatever we speak or do or even think of God our thoughts and words are analogously applied. There is an infinite difference between God our Creator and the limited nature of all of creation, including humanity and all we can think, speak or do. With this conviction in our awareness at all times, when we want to think or speak of God, we can begin with the song of the angels in Isaiah.
In our limited minds we do speak of God's power, His wisdom, His goodness, and all the other qualities we see in God, even using according to custom a masculine pronoun in reference to God though we should constantly be aware God is neither masculine nor feminine in a literal sense.
The word holy as it appears in the song of the angels in Isaiah is something like our use of a person's name, Fred or Mary. As the names of Fred and Mary, the names say all that can be said of Fred and Mary, their age, size, weight, hobbies, address, number of hairs on their heads, and dollars in their wallets, etc.
In this sense the word holy sums up and contains within itself all that God is and God alone is holy, since there is only one God. In a secondary sense we speak of other persons and things being holy, as a church building which is dedicated to God and the place where we worship God together. We speak of the Bible which speaks of God and comes from God as holy. We call the place where Jesus was born and lived out His ministry on earth the Holy Land.
What is the meaning of holiness when the term is applied to persons? For me, when applied to persons, to be holy means first of all to be like God. In this sense to grow in holiness means to become more and more like God. I don't remember many people talking about holiness in this way and I sometimes wonder how many of us are actually trying consciously to grow in holiness by trying to be more and more like God.
When was the most recent time you can recall doing something or doing something in a particular way precisely and explicitly so that you would grow in holiness, become more like God?
Perhaps it was the time you mopped the kitchen floor or mowed the lawn. I have done those types of things to grow in holiness myself, and found them quite effective for the purpose.
God teaches us very clearly in the very first Book of the Bible that He made the entire universe and that God cares for it all. In our care for it we are holy or like to God. We would miss many opportunities for growing in holiness if we saw the opportunities as limited to prayer, Bible study, or going to church. Yet it seems some people do just that, almost living two separate lives in the process, the life of Bible reading, church, and prayer, and the life of the world, business, industry, recreation.
If it were ever to be merely this for us, there would be a most significant element of our Catholic faith that would be missing, the supernatural gift of our sharing in God's life called Sanctifying Grace. In the supernatural gift of Sanctifying Grace bestowed upon us
in Baptism, we are united with Jesus and become members of the Church, the Body of Christ, as members of a vine are united to the vine and share the life of the vine. In answer to the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper and in response to His gift to the Father in the act of worship or unconditional trust and total love of Jesus for the Father on Calvary, the Father now loves us as He loved Jesus! United with Jesus in this love, as the Father loves Jesus and Jesus loves us, God lives in us! (Jn. 17: 22, 23).
There is no more effective plan I can imagine for growing in holiness or being like God than our application of the gift of Sanctifying Grace in our lives through our reception of the Sacraments and in all that we do as Baptized Christians in the name of Jesus, in union with Him as branches on a living vine and members of the Church the Body of the Resurrected Jesus on earth.
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This might be a good place to refresh our memories of some of the many texts of Scripture that serve as the foundation of our faith in the effects of Baptism and the gift of Sanctifying Grace. From all of these texts I can understand and appreciate why the Sisters teaching us in St. Thomas the Apostle parochial school back home all the way down to the second grade were so much aware that we desire to live always "in the State of Grace".
Gall.2: 19,20. I have been crucified with Christ and the life I now live is not my own; Christ lives in me.
Rom. 6: 3 - 8. Are you not aware that we who have been Baptized into Christ were Baptized into His death? Through Baptism into His death we were buried with Him, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might live a new life.
John 10: 27,28. My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they know me. I give them eternal life. (Note: hear, follow, give, are all in the present tense.)
John 10:10 I came that they (my sheep) may have life.
John 1: 11 - 13. Any who did accept him he empowered to become children of God. These are they who believe in His name who were begotten...by God.
John 5: 24. I solemnly assure you, the man who hears my word and has faith in him who sent me possesses eternal life.
John 14: 5 I am the life.
II Cor. 5: 17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
1 Peter 1: 3,5 Praised be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in His great mercy gave us new birth.
Titus 3: 5 He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
John 15: 1 - 5 Live on in me as I do in you...I am the vine, you are the branches.
1 Cor. 6:19 You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within...
John 20: 30 Jesus performed many other signs...these have been recorded to help you believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in His name.
John 3: 4 I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God's kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.
1 John 3: 1 See what love the Father has bestowed upon us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are.