by James Paulin
Holy smokes! Holy mackerel! Holy cow! Holy Mollie! We have all heard these expressions of amazement and surprise. These are reserved for extreme situations. There is something very significant about being holy. Moses, chosen by God, could not get close to the holy place from which God spoke. Ex3:5.
A friend recently greeted me by saying, “There is holy Jim”. I felt unworthy of being greeted this way and at first denied that I was holy. When thoughts about holiness come to mind they first go to God. The Holy Spirit, The Holy of Holies of the Old Testament temple, the Holy Father and the sacrament of holy orders of the Roman Catholic Church are first to surface. One definition of holy explains the meaning as “belonging to a divine power, sacred”. People who are exuberant and emotional in a display of faith have been called “Holy Rollers”. Some Christians bless themselves with holy water.
The Bible equates holiness to perfection for one to be in the presence of God. Romans chapter12 begins with an invitation. “ I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect”. It seems we have to choose holiness. Many things pull at our attention and call us to make choices, sometimes not so perfect, sometimes just plain wrong.
“Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy: for I, the Lord, your God, am holy. Be careful, therefore, to observe what I, the Lord, Who make you holy, have prescribed. Leviticus 20:7-8
How do we stay holy? How do we sanctify ourselves? The Word of God gives the answer. The beginning of the Gospel of John is a great example of a concise message. Jesus is proclaimed and His mission is stated. Verses11-12 are “To His own He came yet His own did not accept Him. Any who did accept Him, He empowered to become children of God.” We have the power to choose our spiritual family. We can be part of God’s own intimate, unconditional and sanctifying love.
We don’t choose our physical family. The experiences we have in family shape our attitudes and values. The parents provide role models and leadership. Responsibility, accountability and forgiveness are central to the ideal household. The home should be a holy place, a time and a space with an atmosphere of acceptance and comfort. This “temple of unconditional, encouraging love” is what we would all like to have.
There is such a temple available for all of us. “Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Cor 3:16-17
In every Christian theology, God is considered to grant grace, His bestowed divine love and protection, quite freely since this gift is far greater than any person can merit. This sacred (sacra) action (ment), sacrament, is given to us in a baptism of water signifying acceptance of the blood of Jesus for atonement of our sins.
I am feeling better about being called holy because the Lamb of God loves me. The call to holiness cries out, “Lord make less of me and more of Thee”.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.