Thursday, July 21, 2011


Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking, “What more can we do in order to make my parish a holier place?” A certain amount of that is good. It is a good thing to have another Mass or a class or more holy hours or confessions. But you can only add so much activity and then it just becomes more activity. And as the saying goes we just become busy people being busy – not necessarily growing in holiness. At some point a different approach is needed.

The most important thing that can happen is that the individual strive for personal sanctity. Instead of running around trying to make other people holy, the focus has to be becoming holier oneself. If a husband wants his wife to be holier, he must become so. If a mother wants her children to become holier, she should become so. If a pastor wants his people to become holier, he must become so. You can only give what you’ve got.

Here is the trick however – you cannot become holier FOR another person. That is to put on the appearance of holiness is not enough; to pray the rosary to be seen, to walk around with a solemn face, to speak condescendingly to others who do not appear to be as holy. Holiness in this regard is only a veneer and it is easily seen through. Rather such conviction must come from within and be a natural flowering of the faith, joy, and holiness taking root deep in one’s heart.

Starting clubs, prayer groups, initiatives, making posters, offering more and more and more stuff is a good start but too often a substitute for the hard work of holiness and a quick (and not as long lasting) fix. (Not that they are bad in and of themselves!)  The individual choosing holiness is the way the Church has always renewed itself. It takes A LOT longer for this “leaven to raise the dough” but when it does it is more deeply seated and longer lasting.


Margaret Comstock said...

You said "... and be a natural flowering of the faith, joy, and holiness taking root deep in one’s heart."

I totally agree and would emphasize JOY as a prime ingredient. I didn't think that before, but, as I approach my 86th birthday it is clearer to me than it was. It is a part of love.

lgreen515 said...

"Puritan Boy" looks like he wants to smack someone. Or that he thinks someone is about to smack him.

Fr. V said...


Thant's kind of why I put him up there.

rajouimet said...

That is so true...I think we are so used to the hectic lifestyle that many of us live that we transfer this over to our parish life. Like the saying goes "sometimes less is more."

Anonymous said...

I agree - I thought I would have nothing to discuss with my spiritual director as I had not been *doing* anything much except attending mass for a couple of weeks. But this meeting was focussed on *being* which is far harder to think about.