The Holy Spirit: the Sanctifier
Be a saint!   All of us are called to become saints; none of us is excluded.  The proof?  Jesus stated it clearly and more than once:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy…” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness they will be filled.”  St Paul to the Thessalonians reiterates this urgent call to holiness with these words:  “This is the will of your heavenly father your sanctification...”

Blessed Mother  Teresa of Calcutta urges us on with these words, “Holiness is not the privilege of the few but the duty of all.”   The founder of Opus Dei, St Jose Maria Escriva Balaguer asserted, “The biggest crisis in the modern world is the lack of saints.”  (Indeed a crisis of holiness).

If that were not enough the Dogmatic Constitution of  the  second Vatican Council dedicated an entire chapter on the same topic,  “The Universal call to holiness” (Lumen Gentium, chapter V).

Here is a simple and catechetical proof of our call to become saints! Answer these questions! How many of you want to go to heaven? Next! Who is in heaven?  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and  THE SAINTS!!!!   This  could not be clearer: to go to heaven we must all become saints; there is no way around the universal call to holiness.

What better time to pursue this goal of holiness than in the “Year of Faith” that just started October 11, 2012 and will terminate on the Solemnity of Christ the King, Nov. 24th 2013!

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, like St. John the Baptist paves the way for us to this call to holiness.  It is not complicated, but it is challenging.   The path is to establish a personal relationship with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In this essay, challenging us to live out the Year of faith in the pursuit of holiness of life, we  would like to offer ten simple suggestions, all of them starting with the letter “M” to strive to live out the words of Jesus:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” Also that we would all hunger and thirst for holiness of life more than any other created being!

1.    MORNING PRAYER.  Shakespeare quipped, “All is well that ends well.” Let us give a twist to the great poet, “All is well that begins well!”   If we begin our day by offering to Jesus through Mary our first thoughts and prayers then the rest of the day will flow much more smoothly. Therefore start your day by praying the morning offering in which you offer all you are and all you will do  and all you have to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then end by kissing your Brown Scapular.  Wind in your sails! Superb start! May God accompany you the whole rest of the day!

2.     MEALS.  Bless your meals.  Call to mind how many people in the world do not have enough to eat, how many children this very day will die of hunger, how many like the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich man long for the crust that falls from the table.  With us, we have too much and almost every week toss in the garbage disposal the excess food! Be thankful and bless God for all, especially the daily bread that comes from a loving and Providential Father,
St. Jerome, who translated the Bible

3.    MEDITATION OF THE BIBLE/THE WORD OF GOD.   The Holy Father, the Councils, the saints all insist that we must immerse ourselves deeper in the infinite riches of the Word of God.  When we say the Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Give us this day our DAILY BREAD….    This “Daily Bread”  has various interpretations. One interpretation is the “Bread” of the word of God.   Being in the desert for forty days and forty nights fasting, the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread and Jesus responds:  “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  By this Jesus was teaching us that the nourishment of our mind with the Word of God prevails over the filling of our stomachs with physical sustenance.

4.     MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION.  Even more important than physical bread and even the Word of God is the “Bread of life”, which means Holy Communion the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.   While preaching in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus states in unequivocal terms the utter necessity of this “Bread of Life”.  We might even say it is a matter of life and death. (Eternal life or eternal death).  Listen to the Master:  “I am the Bread of Life, whoever eats my Body and drinks my blood will have eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.”   In other words if we want to live eternally we must nourish our souls frequently on the Body and Blood of Our Lord, the Holy Eucharist in Holy Communion in the context of Holy Mass!

5.    MERCY towards others.  Another condition to enter the Kingdom is mercy.  If we want to be recipients of God’s mercy then we must be merciful to others. The prayer of the Our Father could not be clearer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…  Jesus, of course is our model par excellence.  From the cross He teaches us mercy two times:  “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing…” and then to the repentant thief Jesus says, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise…. Indeed the triumph of God’s mercy in the last moment!  In the Diary of Saint Faustina Jesus exhorts all to do at least one act of mercy every day. It can be done in one of three ways: 1) prayer for somebody, 2) kind words, 3) some kind deed.   Let us take serious Jesus’ words:  “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

6.     MANNERS IN CHURCH.   The Holy Father sadly reminds the modern world that we have lost the sense of the sacred and the sense of mystery especially in Church.  Moses took off his sandals before the burning bush. The prophet Isaiah’s lips were purified by a burning coal. We must rediscover the holiness of our three times holy God especially in Church where Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.  “O Sacrament most holy O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.”

7.     MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF HEART.  An authentic manifestation of holiness is reflected by meekness.  Meekness is not weakness but rather powerful emotion under control.  No better model have we than Jesus Himself who stated, “Come to me all of you who are weary and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you because I am meek and humble of heart,    because my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30).  Known for his gentle and meek spirit, St Francis de Sales asserted:  “You can catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey then a barrel of vinegar.”   “Jesus meek and humble of heart make my heart like unto thine.”

8.     MASTER JESUS OUR HEAVENLY MODEL.  We all need models on which to pattern our lives. May Jesus be our Model.  He Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Remember those wrist bands that were in fad a few years back with the letters  WWJD----“What would Jesus do?”  Not a bad constant reminder in the midst of a pagan and materialistic world.  Money, power, fame and pleasure are not our gods. Jesus is our MODEL!

9.     MISSION.   An authentic follower of Christ is a prophet, evangelizer as well as a missionary.  Pope Benedict XVI in his apostolic letter reminds us insistently that in the year of faith we must experience a personal and deep relationship with Jesus as our true friend. But this treasure must be shared. Like Andrew who ran to tell Peter about Jesus, like the Samaritan woman at the well who ran to tell her compatriots that she found Jesus, like Our Lady who hastened to share Jesus with Elizabeth and the baby John the Baptist, so we must joyfully bring the good news--- The Gospel-- to the whole world.   Our Lord and Savior’s last words in the Gospel of St Matthew are:  “Go out to all nations and teach them all I taught you and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And behold I am with you always even until the end of the world. “(Mt 28) .
Mary giving the Rosary to St. Dominic and St Catherine of Siena

10.MARY MOST HOLY AND THE ROSARY.   A holy man of God once made this concise assertion: “Where there is little success is because there is little Mary.”  Mary is the quickest, easiest, most efficacious path to Jesus. (St. Louis de Montfort)  When Our Lady appeared at Fatima six times in 1917 she said six times:  PRAY THE ROSARY!!!!!!  If a mother repeats herself countless times it is because that mother believes that this message is important. If our heavenly Mother Mary exhorted us to say it six times then it must be of prime importance for the salvation of our souls and the salvation of the world at large.   Blessed Pope John Paul II in his beautiful letter on the Rosary, “The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary” (Oct 16, 2002) insisted on the Rosary being prayed, especially in the family and for two specific reasons: for world peace and for the safeguarding of the family.   The immortal words of the Rosary priest, Father Patrick Peyton resonate in our ears:  “The family that prays together stays together…. And, “A world at prayer is a world and peace.”
Father Patrick Peyton, Apostle of the Holy Rosary

Let us all in this year of grace, “The Year of faith” accept the challenge to strive for holiness.  The only true way that the world will be changed for the better is when each and every one of us makes the firm decision and proposal to become saints.  Remember Jesus’ words:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy…” And, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness they will be satisfied.”   Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us always….