Spirituality for Today – September 2011 – Volume 16, Issue 2

Growing In Holiness

By Fr. Dr. Jerom Paul

On the road to holiness we face many difficulties and hurdles. The obstacles to holiness are also obstacles in the practice of Christian life. Our fragile human nature has to battle against various obstacles such as pride, sensuality and avarice in our daily life. Certainly no man is enslaved by all of them equally. But there is no one who is not in danger at some time from one or another of them. In our attempts to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect, often we are content with the elimination of the external manifestations of these enemies. Anyone who wishes to grow in holiness needs to have a close look at these enemies within and uproot them to make our path to holiness straight.

A photo of a man's hands clasped over a bible

Pride instills in us a false self love and makes us believe that we are endowed with great many good qualities. We feel self sufficient and do not like to depend on others for anything. We look down upon others and consider them inferior. We feel over confident of our talents and abilities. They make a show of themselves and with a desire to be praised by others do things to be seen on their own and exaggerate their achievements.

Sadly pride makes us uncharitable to our neighbors as we are tend to despise others. Because of pride, one finds it difficult to listen to others and practice the great virtue of obedience. Lack of humility will never allow us to admit our weakness and mistakes. We will always try to justify our actions. Naturally, our superiority complex will lead us to criticize everyone else. As a result, with a nature so proud, we will be deprived of the Grace of God because God does not listen to the proud.

Another obstacle to holiness is sensuality. We can easily trace the external manifestations of sensuality in laziness, gluttony and impurity.

Laziness is an enemy that accompanies us from morning till night. It is a by-product of sensuality. We feel lazy in getting up, doing our duties on time and in the observance of Christian virtues. Rather than working and finding life smooth, they like to be helped by others in everything. On the other hand we also find people so busy that they have no time for relaxation, recreation and for being with their near and dear ones. They always have something or other to do: a type of workaholic. They have not free days in their agenda. This too is a dangerous path.

Some can not resist temptations against food and drink. They forget the truth: eat only to live and to serve God. We are not born to eat and die. Unfortunately some fall sick due to over eating. To overcome the inclination to gluttony, we need to mortify things in our lives at all times especially on festive occasions. We need to eat healthy food to keep us healthy lest we fall ill.

Impure thoughts and impure actions keep us away from God. To be chaste in thought and action, we need to control our senses. Only a well disciplined person can take possession of all his senses. Succumbing to the sensual pleasures, we forfeit our opportunity to get rewarded for our good conduct. Growing in holiness necessarily demands strict observance of purity in one's life. To resist the temptations of flesh, we have to go through the path of rigorous mortifications, penance and self discipline. Added to this, we need to learn to love and respect others as our brothers and sisters.

Yet another obstacle we face on our journey to holiness is avarice. Our greed for money, power and position no way makes our journey smooth. Our craze for material possession is always a threat to us in our attempts for sanctity. All these are obstacles to the love of God. Attachment to power, money and position detach us from God. When these material comforts take priority in our life, God becomes helps in our life. When our heart gets attached to this world, we slowly get detached from heavenly treasures. We need to have them only as required for our existence and the rest will be ensured by God. There should be no excess in the procuring of the material comforts. A simple life style with minimum convenience will enhance holiness in our life.

Thus we face many obstacles in our efforts to live in holiness and sanctity. Hence there is a great need for unceasing vigilance so as not to loose even the smallest part of our treasure along the way. Let us always look at our master crucified, gaze on high and gather heavenly treasures.