Pursue Holiness Right Here and Now
- 2011 9 Mar
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Albert Haase's book, This Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are, (InterVarsity Press, 2010).
Holiness can seem like a lofty, elusive goal that you know you should pursue but hesitate to go after for fear of failing. But holiness isn’t just something you try to experience during extraordinary situations when you feel especially close to God. You can become more holy right here and now, in the ordinary moments of life that become sacred when you learn how to selflessly respond to God’s calls.
Here’s how you can pursue holiness right here and now:
Recognize that every moment is sacred. Each moment that you experience is sacred because it’s an expression of God’s will for you. So rest assured that every moment matters to God – from the mundane duties you fulfill on the job, to the daily chores and errands you must complete.
Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Ask God to help you notice all the details that He wants you to notice in every situation. Be constantly alert to how God may be speaking to you through the circumstances you encounter. Be willing to respond to what your senses are registering around you. Whenever you sense God knocking on the door of your soul about a particular situation, open it to welcome His redemptive presence into that situation.
Trade selfishness for selflessness. The heart of holiness is selflessness. When you’re open to responding to God’s calls, no matter what sacrifices you may have to make to do so, your selfishness opens the door for God’s power to work through you helping others. So ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow way from selfishness and toward selflessness. When you encounter a need you might help meet, don’t ask “What’s in it for me?”. Instead, ask how you might empty yourself so that other people can be enriched. Imagine that your soul is full of windows rather than mirrors, and instead of looking inward in self-reflection, focus on looking outward to help others as God calls you to do. Pray for the compassion you need to be motivated to reach out to the people God wants you to help, such as the poor, the sick, and the marginalized.
Recognize how God calls you. While God may sometimes call you to do something by getting your attention in a dramatic way, most often God uses ordinary circumstances and quiet thoughts and feelings to call you. Don’t miss God’s messages when He is reaching out to you without drama, directing your attention to a need that He wants you to help meet or encouraging you to fulfill a challenging duty.
Develop ongoing discernment. Each time you sense that God may be calling you to respond to a particular situation, you need to have the discernment to answer the question, “What would Jesus do and how would He do it?”. You can start developing that discernment by realizing that your current responsibilities are the basic building blocks for God’s kingdom in your life, because you lay the foundation for Jesus’ lordship in your life when you decide to remain faithful to your daily duties even when doing so is inconvenient, difficult, or painful. As you faithfully continue to fulfill your responsibilities, take care of your own physical and emotional health so you can give to others, and talk regularly with other Christians about discerning how God is working in and through your life, you’ll develop the ability to better discern how God is calling you. As you pray daily for God’s guidance, talk with a trusted friend about how you’re responding to God’s calls, surrender to whatever happens in each moment, and patiently endure difficult circumstances, you’ll practice ongoing discernment that will help you follow where God is leading you.
Practice ancient ways of praying to sensitize your soul to God’s voice. Get to know God’s voice better by practicing lectio divina, imaginative prayer, and the examen. Lectio divina involves reading a particular Scripture text slowly and meditatively several times while asking God to help you understand how it relates personally to you. Imaginative prayer involves reading a portion of the Gospels about Jesus’ life while imagining yourself in the scene and pondering how God may be calling you to change a specific attitude or behavior in light of the insights you receive. The examen involves taking about 15 minutes in the evening to reflect on your day and how well you did or didn’t respond to God’s calls during the day.
Develop the fruit of the Spirit to overcome your ego. Following your ego’s urges to focus on self-concern, self-image, self-gratification, or self-preservation can defeat your desire to pursue holiness. But developing qualities that the Holy Spirit wants you to grow in your life will give you victory over your ego and free you from slavery to sin so you can successfully pursue holiness. Fruit of the Spirit such as joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and self-control will help you become a more selfless person. Fruit of the Spirit like love, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness will help you open yourself up to respond to God’s calls.
Adapted from This Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are, copyright 2010 by Albert Haase. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
Albert Haase, O.F.M. (Ph.D., Fordham University; M.Div., Catholic Theological Union), is a preacher, retreat leader and spiritual director based in the Chicago area. He serves as the director of the International Institute for Clergy Formation (Seton Hall University). He has also taught as an adjunct professor of spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois, and offers training in spiritual direction for the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois. He is the co-host of Spirit and Life, a weekly radio show on the Relevant Radio network, and a former missionary to mainland China. You can visit Father Albert's website at www.albertofm.org.
Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.