There seems to be a dilemma in the spiritual life. We want to do great things for God, but we are caught up in the little tasks of everyday life. We think holiness must wait until some future time: when the kids are grown up, when the job is less demanding, when we retire, when we can go on retreat. But if, as Vatican II taught, holiness is meant for everyone, shouldn’t it be accessible in every circumstance? How can we become holy now?
Although some saints have been martyrs, missionaries, or miracle workers, others have been parents, kings and queens, businessmen, and even children. How did they become great? Through “abandonment to divine providence” as Fr. Jeanne-Pierre de Caussade called it.
Don’t let the big words confuse you. This is simply the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, who said that even when she picked an object off the floor, she did it out of love for God. Likewise, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “We must do little things with great love.” This practice has also been called “the sacrament of the present moment.”
The Little Way goes beyond mindfulness
The modern practice of mindfulness tries to achieve something similar. Stemming from Buddhism, mindfulness entails living in and being aware of what is happening in the present, even down to small details. While mindfulness can bring a certain measure of peace, it cannot sanctify the present, or the one who practices it. More is needed. We need to recognize and accept God’s will in the present moment.
We lead hectically busy lives. Sometimes I find myself being “too busy” to be open to God’s grace. When my boys interrupt my tasks with questions, requests, or seemingly endless stories, I find it difficult to be patient. I have so much to do! I need to see these interruptions as part of God’s plan for me at that moment. Maybe God has a different agenda than I do. If He allows these interruptions, who am I to get impatient over them? At the very least, I need to respond to my children with love.
Can you accept the ups and downs of your day with peace?
Thus it is with all the events and circumstances of our daily lives. We need to accept them with peace. We need to see the will of God in the conflicts with our co-workers, in the crashing of our computers, in the weather that ruins a family outing, in the phone call that comes at dinner time. We need to keep our equilibrium at every moment, because God is in control of our lives, and He has a loving plan for us. Our goal is to become like St. Paul, who said, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
When we accept our circumstances–not just because they exist, but out of love for God–the present moment becomes holy. Our day is sanctified, and so are we. This is the path to finding holiness now. This is the simple way each of us can become a saint.
Share with us:
How have you implemented the Little Way in your life? How are you striving to sanctify the present?
17 thoughts on “You can be holy today”
What a great post. I needed to hear this today and return to reading The Abandonment. Thank you!
Thanks, Annabelle. I’ve been struggling to follow the advice in my own post all day!
Interruptions are like a slow painful death to me….It’s my hardest struggle.
Nicole, I can totally relate, as you can tell from my post. I am a focused person, so if two of boys both want something at the same time, especially while I’m busy–yikes! Great opportunity to practice heroic virtue! 🙂
I am so blessed to have found your blog! Thank you for such beautiful reminders. God bless you!
Thanks for the encouragement, Kelly. I hope your browse the archives a bit–and maybe follow me too :). Have a great day.
Thank you for this! It came at a perfect time! My husband has been down and out for a week now…we’re thinking it’s mono…and we have 4 children 6 and under. Needless to say, the week has been challenging for both of us! We both benefited from reading this!
You’re welcome, Christina! Ah, those innocent boys we married. My husband had mono the first year of our marriage. It’s a tough one when you have to work and care for a family! I’m glad I could encourage you. You are in my prayers.
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Thank you so much. I really need such reminders. I know God wants us to be holy and wants to give us the
grace to become so, still I fail Him so greatly by relying on myself instead of Him. My intentions are to do all
for love of Him, but not 5 seconds later I am flat on my face in anger and frustration. But maybe this is what
I need in order to become humble and to place all my trust and confidence in Him, a process that seems to
be taking a life time to accomplish. How often I want to just give up in despair, but that is pride and of the evil one. Our Lord would not ask us to strive for holiness if it were impossible to attain. So no matter how many
times I fall in a day, the important thing is that I keep running to Him with trust and confidence. I can’t reach
Him with my own strength, but with His.
Sharon, I can really relate to what you are saying. I was in that place for years: try, fail, be distraught, repeat.
You know the solution: trust. Truly, our failures are nothing compared to God’s strength! He is no more disturbed by your failures than I am disturbed when my toddler can’t do all the things his older brothers can. God knows our weaknesses and does not expect us to be perfect when we are just starting out.
Pride is so dangerous to the spiritual life. It’s worth a few bruises to learn humility.
YES! Twenty-five years ago, my husband discovered a book at a Trappist monastery that changed our lives, called “Guideline to Mystical Prayer” by a British Carmelite nun, Ruth Burrows. She describes Petra( a woman who lives only by faith) and Claire (a “light on” nun who experiences mystical encounters). Both wome know that it is no longer they that live but Christ that lives in them. We were filled with such joy because we could finally legitimized by identifying with Claire and we realized that holiness is real and .possible
looks like I have a subject for my next ost..thanks
No problem, Melanie! I don’t know why we don’t hear this at Mass. Most Catholics have no idea of the greatness to which God is calling them.
Hi Connie ~ I am pretty new to your site. I agree with all of the things that you have shared I have read all of these things in the books. I especially love soon- to-be-Saint Fulton Sheen’s the Sacrament of the Moment from ‘Lift Up Your Heart’.
….But I seem to be getting worse! Now I have 7 kids, 15-1 years old, and I seem to be the worst example in the house. My instant bad-mannerliness in reaction to what isn’t pleasing me here and there in the actions behaviors, surroundings, is not acceptable … especially to me. I have started going to confession every week and just started counseling to learn anger management for myself and my whole family because they mirror my bad mannerliness now. We have become a house of elevated volume when things don’t go your way. The elevated hormones and emotions and tempers that has entered the house about few years ago has just started to be our MO! Holy? it is more like HOLY COW!!!! I don’t seem to have the skill set to deal with all of this lack of holiness. Regarding your title, ‘You can be Holy Today’ & today’s homily about being the salt and light have me at a loss. I think that I have lost my flavor and have become the darkness in the room. God have mercy on me and give me back the joy and light.
Oh, Joy, I have a chapter in my book about my similar experience. I spent a decade getting down on myself for my anger (a problem which goes back several generations in my family) and lack of spiritual progress. I think all my kids are inheriting this problem or learning it from me. But last year God lifted the burden that was on me. No, I am not much more patient with other people–but I am more patient with myself. Maybe God is offering you the same opportunity He offered to me. That is the gift of humility. I was finally able to surrender to Him on a deeper level, because I was truly helpless. I still am. And He has helped me be willing to stay that way if it’s necessary to keep me from pride. Pride is a worse sin than anger. When I was younger, it was so easy for me to think that I was better than other people. Not any more. “My sin is always before me,” as King David wrote.
I will keep you in my prayers.
Great post – As you know, using terms that emerge from non-Christian Eastern spirituality is foolish, irresponsible, and potential cause of scandal.
Why? Because when these terms are used, the typical reader has no idea if the person using them has adopted all or part of the associated philosophy the reflect. If they trust the person and presume some positive association with “mindfulness” or “mantras” then they will often follow their curiosity into the territory of the enemy of souls.
Those who play with these terms or are too lose in their spiritual theology are often poorly formed and at the same time working to reach out and connect with popular culture. This was the path of the most prominent heretics of our time in the realm of spiritual theology. The pseudo prayer movements and all their myriad of errors regarding prayer and even their heretical understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and creation was birthed out of this well intended but extremely problematic venture.
If you see folks using these terms. Run. Pray for them. Don’t follow them.
Thanks, Dan. That’s sound advice. I would never present the Practice of the Presence of God as “Catholic Mindfulness” as someone did in a recent email that was forwarded on to me. At the same time, I think it is good to acknowledge the desire for God that is at the root of these practices. So we meet people where they are, without promoting what they are practicing.