Signs of Holiness (Book Club Part 5)

Signs of Holiness (Book Club Part 5)


By Sister Mary Core, OSB

True enough, we need to open our hearts to Jesus who stands and knocks.  Sometimes I wonder, though, if perhaps Jesus is already inside us and knocking on the door for us to let him escape from inside our stale self-centeredness. - Pope Francis

WOW!!

This quote from Pope Francis, found in chapter 4 of Gaudete et Exultate, was a real “knock your sox off” statement that caught the attention of our book club members. 

The “signs of holiness” which Francis deals with in this chapter are the characteristics, virtues and qualities, – the fruits of a life of holiness.  

Pope Francis speaks of patience, humility, meekness, boldness, prayerfulness, perseverance, and community as hallmarks of a holy life.

He calls each of us to not only let Christ into our lives, but to realize Christ is already within us and wants us to share that presence with everyone and everything (stewardship).

How easy it is to get caught up in today's self-centered, consumeristic, complacent lifestyle. How easy it is to adopt a “me-first" attitude, sharing only if it's convenient and makes us feel good.

Me-first leads us away from God. It can also surface feelings of self-doubt, fear, excessive caution and helplessness, to the point that otherwise good and holy people become paralyzed and closed to living as Christ taught.

Other discoveries by our book group:

* Falling into a “go it alone” trap is also easy and dangerous.  When Francis speaks of community as important to becoming holy, we find we are grateful for the support and opportunities we gain through family, church groups, friends, neighbors and fellow workers.    

* We agree with Pope Francis when he says “I do not believe in holiness without prayer, even though that prayer need not be lengthy or involve intense emotion." (147) We have all experienced times when the only thing that got us through was prayer ... even when all we could utter was simply “Help me, Lord.” 

* We spent time with Francis’s very direct questions: “Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence? Do you let God's fire inflame your heart?” (151)  Time spent alone and in silence with God allows us to listen to God.

In the end, maybe “becoming holy” is really all about relationship – our relationship with God as encountered and shared in our life, in the lives of others and in the world about us. 

Questions for Your Reflection:

* Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence? Do you let God's fire inflame your heart?

* What is your reaction to the Pope’s statement: “Sometimes I wonder, though, if perhaps Jesus is already inside us and knocking on the door for us to let him escape from inside our stale self-centeredness.”

* Of the various “signs of holiness” presented by Francis, which ones do you find easiest to align with?  Which are most difficult for you to put into practice?

* How can you personally model holiness - make a difference - in a world so in need? 


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