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What does it mean to be holy? Is that even possible?

what-does-it-mean-to-be-holySome believe to be holy you have to run away from the world. Others think you have to be in church on your knees praying all day. Still others believe to be holy you have to walk around with a halo, that you’re not allowed to smile, or have any fun, or enjoy yourself at all. They think to be holy you have to despise everything of this world and walk around with a long, drawn-out stoic look on your face.

These are all the very unnatural and unattractive ideas that the world proclaims about holiness. The world ridicules holiness. The world pities the saints, saying, “Oh, he could have been so much more!” or “She had so much potential!” Let me assure you, it is not the saints who need our pity.

Holiness brings us to life. It refines every human ability. Holiness doesn’t dampen our emotions; it elevates them. Those who respond to God’s call to holiness are the most joyful people in history. They have a richer, more abundant experience of life, and they love more deeply than most people can ever imagine. They enjoy life, all of life. Even in the midst of suffering they are able to maintain a peace and a joy that are independent of the happenings and circumstances surrounding them. Holiness doesn’t stifle us; it sets us free.

The surest signs of holiness are not how often a person goes to church, how many hours he spends in prayer, what good spiritual books he has read, or even the number of good works he performs. The surest signs of holiness are an insatiable desire to become all God created us to be, an unwavering commitment to the will of God, and an unquenchable concern for unholy people.

Living a holy life means letting our decisions be guided by the Holy Spirit. It means allowing each moment to be all it can be. Holiness is living with the goal of the Christian life in mind. It is allowing our decisions to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness is surrendering to the will of God, and at the same time, it is grasping each moment and making it all it can be. Sometimes holiness means indulging yourself and sometimes it means renouncing yourself. Each event in your life is an opportunity to change, to grow, and to become a-better-version-of-yourself–and that grasping of each moment is holiness. Holiness is allowing God to fill every corner of your being; that is when we truly become the-best-version-of-ourselves. Holiness is being set apart for God. It is a desire to do the will of God, and yet, the desire for holiness is itself a gift from God. Holiness is as simple as knowing when to say yes and when to say no.

Copyright © 2010 Beacon Publishing. Used with permission.

You can receive a free copy of Rediscover Catholicism, by Matthew Kelly, as well as explore the other books and resources available from Dynamic Catholic, at DynamicCatholic.com.