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The Possibility of Holiness

I am not holy.  My sins, failures and weaknesses are before me every day, but I believe in the possibility of holiness and it is this belief that keeps me in the Church. 

I am not naïve to the sins and failures of the institution of the Church nor its representatives - past and present, universal and local - but neither am I naïve to the sins and failures of those outside the Church and those who deride “church”.  I have also witnessed their sins and their hidden despair and I want none of it.  The louder and more forced the laugh; the deeper the despair, I believe. 

I do not want nor need a “Church” made in my image.  I know my sins.  Holiness is challenge – lived daily and without fanfare.  I am a creature and I need my Creator to heal what is broken within me.  To pretend that there is no brokenness is, in fact, to deny my Creator. 

Holiness is simple.  I am tired of a presentation of faith that needs to be hyper-stimulated.  I feel sorry for our young people who are growing up in such a world.  I am sorry for the times the Church buys into this.  Holiness cannot be manufactured.  Holiness grows simply and quietly.  What is manufactured quickly fades and leaves a void.  Maybe holiness can begin to grow in this void; maybe it cannot.  I know that God can work as God so chooses and I have to trust in this. 

Holiness is not argument, and it is not philosophy.  Debate does not lead to conversion, the witness of holiness does.  Philosophy and its structure is a good tool but it is not salvific faith.  The wise steward, we are told, is the one who can go to the storeroom and pull out both the old and the new as needed.  Maybe there are other tools available?

Holiness does not isolate.  Christ, the All Holy One, came into our very midst.  He called us brothers and sisters and taught us to love one another.  Holiness is found in my encounter with the other although it may not be immediately apparent.  The holiness uniquely found in community forces me out of myself and I need this.  If anything, the direction of holiness is from the mountain back down into the valley of the everyday.    

Holiness is not on a mountaintop somewhere but in the Gospel, the sacraments and community.  I need these every day.

Many people like to point to the sins of the Church.  It is nice to have an excuse isn’t it?  Pointing out the perceived sins of others does not grow holiness in my own life; it just gives me a way out.  I need to stand before my Creator on my own and not in contrast to what I perceive as the sins of others. 

Holiness is beautiful and I need beauty – a child playing peek-a-boo, friends laughing, feet being washed. 

I feel sorrow for those who have left the Church.  Christ loves the Church … how can you love Christ and not love what he loves?  Maybe Christ’s love should be bigger than my own resentments and excuses?

Holiness is living in friendship with God.

About the Author

Fr. Michael Cummins

Fr. Michael Cummins

Fr. Michael Cummins is a priest of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Ordained in 1995, he has served in a variety of r...

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