How do we become holy?
It’s a worthy question. There are so many ideas about what defines holiness… and sometimes it’s hard to figure out. The Church says that all people are called to be holy… in who we are and how we live.
Before we begin our Triduum retreat, take some time today to think about your own sense of holiness. Do you feel holy? Or not? Either way… it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty if there are things about yourself that you want to hide. We all have those hidden selves and choices that we’re not proud of.
Key thoughts to remember on your retreat
Holiness is nothing more than becoming your authentic self. Key word here: authentic. This isn’t about narcissism but about having faith in yourself as a human creation of God. Become who you are meant to be in God’s eyes.
Effort and difficulty are adversaries of spiritual development. i.e., the harder you try, the more you fail… probably because you’re not being your authentic self (see above). Artificial prayer and contrived spiritual practices are like forced conversation… they never feel or fit right. And if it doesn’t feel or fit right, why would you keep doing it?
Accept your own vulnerability. Love becomes strong when you’re not afraid to admit that you need help… with everything. Vulnerability is not a matter of self-pity or woundedness; it means allowing yourself to be human… and dependent… and worthy of being loved even when there is nothing you have done to earn it.
Accept where you are in life. Avoid working to create a false self in endless pursuit of achievement which invites people to consider your record rather than your heart, your resume in place of your presence. Humanity is limited; God has created you to bloom.
Use your natural human emotions for spiritual growth. Anger / greed / selfishness show us as much about ourselves as love / peace / forgiveness.
Reject the tendency to organize life rigidly. Ardent religious and spiritual seekers tend to believe there is a “right” way… which is merely another means of wanting to control the journey. Sorry, but God doesn’t work that way.
Jesus did not strain to be who he was. He didn’t teach in fancy or mysterious words. He told stories and parables… opening the way to God for everyone through him.
We need a strong spiritual life to help us maintain the commitments and responsibilities of the everyday. So remember this:
- Be yourself.
- Let holiness emerge from the way you live.
- Do not seek or avoid vulnerability. Let it come.
- Become peaceful wherever you are.
- Develop your emotional horizons.
- Do not organize and program life rigidly.
(But don’t take my word for it… these thoughts come from Trappist monk Thomas Merton <– click to look at a great book!)
Tomorrow… Holy Wednesday: Remind Me Who I Am
Rise up O Jerusalem! Your King is coming!
This coming week, we will also experience the circle of life that is Paschal Mystery… the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is a tumultuous cycle of events… going from the highest highs to the lowest lows and back to even higher highs. This very sacred time of year deserves our prayerful attention and entry into the mystery that is before us.
Praying through Triduum on YouTube
And so we offer you a chance to do your own prayer retreat at home this week… out-of-the-ordinary!
Starting on Holy Wednesday, we will put up a step-by-step retreat outline for you to pray your way through Triduum and on through Easter.
Each day there will be a reflection and activities along with a special YouTube video for your prayer time. You will need about 15 to 30 minutes so plan to carve out some quiet time in your day when you can be free of distractions. Consider doing this first thing in the morning to set the tone for your day.
Let this be a time for change.
Lent is all about turning our lives and our hearts more toward God. If we give time to prayer, God will reward us. God always hears our prayers. Let this be a time of transformation.
Come back on Wednesday for… Holy Wednesday: Remind Me Who I Am.
Peter takes the words right out of our mouths – “But wait, Lord! If Jerusalem is where you will die…why are we going there?!”
It just doesn’t make sense to Peter. Why would Jesus walk toward death when he could run in the other direction? After all, Jesus had so much more work to do with the early believers; so many hearts to touch. We are often dulled to the reality of what Jesus experienced because we have heard and read the Gospel so many times before.
Of course Jesus tells Peter to get behind him and take his temptations with him…after all…it is written in the Bible, isn’t it? We can’t imagine any other way for Jesus to behave. Yet, Peter offered an option that was indeed tempting to Christ – or he wouldn’t have said, “Get behind me, Satan!”
Reading between the lines of Scripture gives us so much more to reflect on than what is simply in the black and white.
This coming week is a week that is filled with contradictions. Jesus is thirsty yet, he is Living Water. Jesus falls under the weight of the cross yet, he is almighty God. Jesus saves Lazarus from death but does not do the same for himself. Jesus allows himself to be stripped – of everything…dignity, humanity, even his garments – when all he ever clothes us with is love.
If I sit with these contradictions this week, perhaps I can sit with Jesus next week. Jesus walks toward danger and refuses to be dissuaded by Peter or the temptation of safety. So many of our own decisions are made from the perspective of safety.
Is there anything that I might be able to walk toward this week that I have been holding at bay or refusing to admit? Is there anything that scares me that I can tackle in the name of Love?
What safety can I offer Jesus today in the person of someone else?