From The Blog

Mission Monthly – May 2005

“How Easy it is to be Holy”

From Abandonment to Divine Providenceby Jean-Pierre Caussade

If the business of becoming holy seems to present insufferable difficulties, it is merely because we have a wrong idea about it. In reality, holiness consists of one thing only: complete loyalty to God’s will. Now everyone can practice this loyalty, whether actively or passively.

To be actively loyal means obeying the laws of God and the Church and fulfilling all the duties imposed on us by our way of life. Passive loyalty means that we lovingly accept all that God sends us at each moment of the day. Now is there anything here too difficult for us? Certainly nothing in active loyalty, for if its duties are beyond our powers, we are not expected to attempt to fulfill them. If we are too ill to go to Church, we need not. And it is the same for all other precepts which lay down duties. But, of course, there can be no exemption from precepts which forbid wrongdoing, for we are never allowed to sin. Can anything be more sensible? Or easier? We are left without any excuse. Yet God asks nothing more than this. But he does require it from everyone, without exception. Class, time and place mean nothing. Everyone must obey. Yet all he is asking from us is very straight-forward and quite easy. We can become truly holy by obeying these simple rules. However, apart from the Commandments, he gives us counsels of perfection; yet, even here, he takes care that the practice of them fits in with our temperament and our position in life. He never drives anyone beyond his strength or ability. What could be fairer?

God has compelled me to write this to help you who seek to be holy and are discouraged by what you have read in the lives of saints and some books dealing with spiritual matters. So do, please, try to learn from me.

God, who is all goodness, has made easily available all the things necessary for life, such as earth, air and water. And what could be more vital than breathing, eating and sleeping? And what is easier? When we turn to spiritual matters, love and loyalty are just as vital, so they cannot be as difficult to acquire as we imagine. Consider your life, and you will see that it consists of countless trifling actions. Yet God is quite satisfied with them, for doing them as they should be done is the part we have to play in our striving for perfection. There can be no doubt about this. Holy Scripture makes it very plain: “Fear God, and keep his commandments, since this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc1es. 12:13). This is all we have to do. This is active loyalty. If we do our part, God will do the rest. Grace will pour into us and will perform marvels far beyond our understanding, for “no eye has seen and no ear has heard things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9). To be passively loyal is even easier, since it implies only that we accept what very often we cannot avoid, and endure with love and resignation things which could cause us weariness and disgust. Once again, this is what being holy means. It is the mustard seed which is almost too small to be recognized or harvested, the drachma of the Gospels, the treasure that no one finds, as it is thought to be too well hidden to be looked for.

But what is the secret of finding this treasure? There isn’t one. This treasure is everywhere. It is offered to us all the time and wherever we are. All creatures, friends or foes, pour it out in abundance, and it flows through every fiber of our body and soul until it reaches the very core of our being. If we open our mouths they will be filled. God’s activity runs through the universe. It wells up and around and penetrates every created being. Where they are, there it is also. It goes ahead of them, it is with them and it follows them. All they have to do is let its waves sweep them onwards. If only kings and their ministers, princes of the Church and of the world, priests, soldiers and ordinary people knew how easy it would be for them to become very holy! All they need to do is fulfill faithfully the simple duties of Christianity and those called for by their state of life, accept cheerfully all the troubles they meet and submit to God’s will in all that they have to do or suffer without, in any way, seeking out trouble for themselves. It is this attitude which gave such holiness to those patriarchs and prophets who lived long before there were so many methods of spirituality and so many directors of souls. This is the true spirituality, which is valid for all times and for everybody. We cannot become truly good in a better, more marvelous, and yet easier way than by the simple use of the means offered us by God, the unique director of souls. It is the ready acceptance of all that comes to us at each moment of our lives.

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