Everything in life is a cycle. Birth to death, Spring to Winter, river to lake to ocean, seed to fruit, atom to mass to energy, everything. You could say that about the spiritual life also. We haltingly learn the prayers, then receive the sacraments then work at “the life” and then dwell in some degree of wisdom until we depart. I am closer to the departure phase than I am to the beginning and I have suffered and enjoyed the fruits of the cycles. At this juncture, though, I must admit that there are some situations that still flummox me and leave me scratching my head.
There are two things that seem to be connected and pop up often as I work with prayer ministers and people who seek spiritual direction: the willingness to pray out loud in a public setting and the idea of personal holiness. I sometimes hear; “I can’t pray with others.”, “In public…”, “For a group…”, “With a person…”, because I am not holy enough! Wow, talk about a conversation stopper between you and God, this would be it. I guess if each of us waited to become “holy enough” by self-definition that heaven would be empty and the waiting lines for purgatory would last millennia just to get in. Or something like that! So, what does it mean to be holy? Was Peter, the betrayer, holy enough? Was Mary, the (supposed) prostitute, holy enough? Was the adulterous, outcast woman, holy enough? Was the “good thief”, holy enough?
Each of these people received an extraordinary gift from Jesus himself with nary a mention of their past and/or blatantly sinful nature. Peter was the first leader of the Church and evangelized the world. Mary saw the resurrected Lord before anyone else and first carried the message of the resurrection. The woman at the well evangelized her entire town. The good thief immediately joined Jesus in paradise! Would you have settled for any of these gifts from the Lord? Give me all four! Are any of these people holier than you are?
Stop falling into the trap of self-judgement and take up the gifts that you happen to have at the time. Deciding if you are “holy enough” for a task is a ruse from the enemy. Praying for and with people in public is a potent witness and tool to spread the Kingdom. Take advantage of that opportunity when it shows up, it’s from the Lord. Accept the challenge of spreading the Kingdom whenever the Lord rolls it right under your nose! Each time you do that, holiness grows. It’s a practice makes perfect thing.
As far as a level of holiness goes, there are no rules, really. The Lord expects us to grow in holiness, it’s true. As far as being holy, that is a pure and generous gift as Peter himself teaches us:
” But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1Peter 2:9)
If you are thinking about being holy and/or doing your best to honor the Lord and practice your faith you are “holy enough”. Witness the examples I have given. These are all people who have stumbled or fallen and are just trying to do their best. That’s the most generous part of the gift we have been given. Whether it’s small or great, all the Lord expects of us is to do our best with the gift we already have. Say Thank You with a sincere heart and roll on. Judgement is not our purview, even for ourselves. Thank God!
Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham