Jesus said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Clearly, Jesus is calling all of us to arrive at perfection through living out a life of holiness. We are all called to be saints! Proof!
In heaven is present, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the angels and the SAINTS! Therefore, no way around it: we are all called to be saints! Athletes have a game plan; soldiers have military strategy; business champions have hammered out to the most minute detail their goals, objectives and strategies. Should not followers of Christ, have their own strategy? Following are (7) key ideas to arrive at perfection.
1. PRAYER! Prayer must be the very breath and life of our soul. Prayer unites us to God; communicates peace and joy; obtains power to resist temptations; it encourages us in our battles. It is the key that will open up heaven to us! Find time, place, silence and good will to pray more and better every day. St. Augustine encourages us with these words: "He who prays well lives well; he who lives well, dies well, he who dies well, all is well!"
2. AVOID SIN. The antithesis of love for God is love for sin. Born as sinners, inclined to sin, surrounded by sinners and sinful institutions, tempted to sin--- this is the human condition! However, it is our obligation to use all of the means at our disposition, the grace of God and good will, to resist sin even to the point of willingness to die rather than sin. Remember the motto of St. Dominic Savio: "Death rather than sin." He meant and lived it--- as well as the army of saints in heaven!
3. CONFESSION. Confession is an indispensable means of grace to heal us of our past wounds contracted due to sin. The specific sacramental grace that flows from Confession is that of healing the wounds caused by sin. Confession is like going to the doctor; it can be curative as well as preventive. Indeed better to prevent a sickness than to heal it! Frequent confession puts a check on the entrance of sin into the door of our hearts! Trust God! Try it!
4.HOLY COMMUNION. Of course, there is no greater means to grow in holiness and to grow in perfection than the faith-filled, fervent, and frequent reception of Holy Communion. The promise of Jesus is most consoling--- HEAVEN! "I am the Bread of life, whoever eats my body and drinks my blood will have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day." (Jn.6) No greater promise exists underneath the sun than entrance into heaven. The ticket is clear: Holy Communion! We become like what we eat! If we nourish ourselves frequently on Jesus Himself, than we start to think like Him (Paul says to put on the mind of Christ), feel like Him, act like Him and love like Him and to be transformed into Him. As St. Paul clearly states:"No longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Indeed "Spiritual Heart-transplants" are possible every time we receive Holy Communion!
5. STUDY/LEARN YOUR FAITH! Impossible to love somebody you do not know--- common sense! Obviously, we cannot love our Catholic faith and Jesus who is the very center of our faith, if we do not know our faith. The very closure of the book of Jonas, laments that these people do not know their left hand from their right hand! Many who call themselves "Catholics" do not have the bare minimum of knowledge of their faith. As a well-known priest once stated, with a tinge of sarcasm, "Many catholics do not know the difference between a Sacrament and a bicycle pump!" How to grow? Read the Bible, the lives of saints, daily Mass and homily, conferences and retreats, catholic radio and t.v. Bible classes, Internet catholic websites. We have never lived in a society with so much information, but also with so much confusion. Determine to become a well-educated catholic!
6. SHARE YOUR FAITH. Your faith is not made to be kept to yourself, The light should not be put underneath the bushel-basket. One of the best ways to grow in your faith is when you have shared your faith with others. St. Thomas Aquinas draws this contrast! In giving materially, one loses, leaves with less! However, in giving of one's faith--- spiritual treasures, the knowledge and love of God-- one is not impoverished by giving. No! By giving gratuitously to others spiritual treasures, the giver is enriched all the more! Mother Teresa said: "Give until it hurts!" St. Paul said: "There is more joy in giving than in receiving." Our best example by far, Jesus, Our Lord and God, gave all even to the last drop of His Precious Blood! What you have received free of charge, give freely and abundantly!
7. MARY: THE MASTERPIECE OF CREATION! Last but not least, love and devotion to Mary must be a fundamental part of your life. All the saints are unanimous: devotion to Mary and confidence in her powerful intercession can never be underestimated as one of the most powerful means to grow in holiness! Remember the inspiring words of the Patron saint of confessors,and parish priests, the holy Cure of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney: "We cannot enter a house without first speaking to the porter. Similarly, we cannot enter heaven without calling upon the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the Portress of Heaven." Love Mary, call upon her, invoke her and she will be there opening the gate of heaven for you for all eternity!