"To grow in holiness, we must first return to regularly receiving the Sacraments and the first step to returning to the Sacraments is an examination of conscience; the Sacrament of Reconciliation."
"Be Holy for I Am Holy."
We are in the middle of a crisis of faith...
Certainly not! We see in Psalm 51 how we are to become holy through a broken and contrite heart. So how do we obtain a broken and contrite heart? St. Francis of Assisi showed great insight here by telling his followers that he preferred absolutely nothing to preaching repentance and penance, which was considered folly at that time because the fear and love of the Lord had died out in the world. The same can be said of our modern, Post-Christian world as well.
So how do we grow in holiness? We grow in holiness by accepting the Father's love and seeking His forgiveness. The closer we grow with the Father, the more we become like Jesus, and like Jesus, our hearts must first truly burn with a desire to grow in holiness. This is impossible without first surrendering our lives to God just as Jesus surrendered his to the Father.
The second step in growing in holiness is by returning to the Eucharist. We must never separate the Eucharist from our daily lives or our daily lives from the Eucharist. Jesus satisfies our hunger for him by giving us his Body and Blood, just as we must satisfy His hunger for the souls of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed by becoming Eucharistic for the people.
Don't expect holiness to happen overnight. Most of us become overwhelmed and discouraged if we don't see ourselves become holy right away. Remember, the saints were first sinners, some of them great sinners. It took many years for the saints to become holy as they were prone to the same trials and failures that we experience in today's world. The important thing is that we persevere, realizing that the Father loves us unconditionally.
Chris Dickson is the Servant General of the Franciscan Lay Apostolate (F.L.A.) Located at the Portiuncula Franciscan Hermitage and Retreat Center in Jerusalem, Ohio, next to the Immaculate Conception Cemetery. The F.L.A. follows the Medieval Penitential First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, dated 1221 A.D., placing themselves under Holy Obedience to the Bishop of Steubenville and Fr. Timothy Davison of the Catholic Churches of Monroe County, Ohio