Sanctity

I was trying to pray this evening, but kept nodding off.  So I decided to catch up on some internet reading.  (Can’t stay awake one hour with Jesus, but I have no problem on the worldwide web…what does that say about me?!)  Here are a few things that caught my attention:

In his All Saints Day homily, Pope Benedict dropped this brief definition of holiness on us:

Sanctity, to imprint Christ in oneself, is the objective of a Christian’s life.

Clear.  Direct.  Succinct.  “To imprint Christ in oneself.”

His teaching on St Bridget of Sweden a couple weeks ago contained this line about St Bridget’s husband:

Together with his wife, Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life.

I know he was speaking generally and summarizing, but it somehow implies an all-too-easy graceful ascent to sanctity.  So does this line that the monks of Christ in the Desert monastery heard from Abbott Jerome Kodell OSB who is leading their annual retreat this week:

One of the statements of Abbot Jerome during our retreat struck me very much. The statement is something that probably all of us already know at one or the other level in our lives, but to which we don’t always give much attention. He said simply that all of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures can probably be summed up with these words of God:  “I am with you. I love you. Trust me.”

True, of course.  Yet, while sounding incredibly simple, it is extremely difficult to keep in mind and to live.  We are so prone to put ourselves at the center and take control.

So just how do we “imprint Christ” in ourselves?

When Pope Benedict was fielding questions from some youth recently, he gave them this advice:

Dear children, dear young people:  being “big” means loving Jesus very much, listening to him and talking to him in prayer, meeting him in the sacraments, in Holy Mass, in confession; it means getting to know him more and more and also letting others know about him, it means standing with our friends, the poorest ones too, the sick ones, to grow together.

Ahhh, we begin to see that there’s some hard work involved, and grace to be begged.  We can’t just run ourselves through some kind of spiritual copier to have Christ imprinted in us.  From that same group of youth, one of their teachers solicited instruction from our Holy Father, and was told:

I would say that being educators means having a joy in your heart and communicating it to all to make life beautiful and good; it means offering reasons and objectives for the journey of life, offering the beauty of the person of Jesus and making others fall in love with him, his way of life, his freedom, his great love full of confidence in God the Father. It means above all always keeping the goal of every existence high toward that “more” that comes from God. This demands a personal knowledge of Jesus, a personal, daily, loving contact with him in prayer, in meditation on God’s Word, in fidelity to the sacraments, to the Eucharist, to confession; it demands communicating the joy of being in the Church, of having friends to share not only problems but also the beautiful things and surprises of the life of faith.

So, let’s get to the task of imprinting Christ in ourselves!

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