The Annals of Saint Anne Summary
March - April 2019 by Lucie Ricard
We speak of the Pope saying "His Holiness"; we speak of ourselves, often, as being "far from holiness" ... But really, in our daily life as a mere mortal in 2019, WHAT is holiness?
To me, for a long time, it meant not to commit sin, to live a life without lying, without stealing, without having impure thoughts, by helping others, by respecting people, by having a regular and healthy rhythm of life... If it were the sole definition of holiness, God knows, I could not be further from it! Not that I do not try, on the contrary, I regularly promise myself to try to be better, while wishing that my mistakes of the past (and of the present!) are reversible in exchange for better choices, better resolutions. But if I'm honest, I must confess that my "good" resolutions rarely last very long.
So, I looked deeper into holiness in 2019 for me, in my life. What does it mean to aim for holiness? I came to a definition that suits me while being, I think, close to reality: Holiness is wanting to get closer to God, to live in His love. For this, one must be in a relationship with God. In our heart, actions, and choices. For me, it's a staircase you choose to climb. A staircase where you can always take a break, you can even go back a step or two, or a full landing, or even down completely to return later... But a staircase that, one step at a time, brings us closer and closer to the love of God. To choose our holiness is to choose to seek to live in the love of God, according to His commandments of love and respect, in relation with Him, in union with Him.
Oh! One can get lost, miss a walk, fall, tumble down and more than once; I am living proof that one does not die from it. But we must always get back on our feet and choose to start climbing the steps again. It's not a superhuman effort, no; it soon becomes a way of life. And we do not climb alone; we go up with God, his Son, his Spirit and all those who took the stairs before us. All of them reach out, they hold our hand, making it easier to do what can, at times, seem a little breathless.
Let's take the stairs of holiness, leading to the love of God, and see where it will take us...Lucie
March - April 2019 by Sylvie Malaborsa
The words holy and holiness are mentioned more than nine hundred times in the Old and New Testaments. "Be holy, because I am holy," says Jesus. In addition to being made holy, we are called to live holy lives.
The apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate invites us to be saints in today’s world. Pope Francis explains that holiness is not a call for a few, but for all of us. “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return, he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence”, Francis writes.
The Pope tells us not to be discouraged by the models of holiness that seem unattainable such as the Canadian Martyrs or Saint John Paul II, who was very ill during the last years of his pontificate. He reassures us by saying Jesus has a unique and particular path for us. The concept of the perfect, faultless saint is unrealistic. In the gospels, we read how flawed the Apostles and the first Christians were. Peter had faults. He was impulsive and passionate, but he was devoted to Jesus and loved him with all his heart. All the witnesses to the faith changed their lives, but they did not get rid of their weaknesses. Holiness is a growth experience. As we mature in faith, we also progress in awareness, love, and willpower. Growing in holiness means that we put Jesus at the center of our lives.
Holiness grows through small gestures. Here is an example. Two neighbors meet in a shopping mall, and they begin to talk. It is very tempting for them to start gossiping about the residents of their apartment building, but instead, they talk about their respective families. This is a step towards holiness. Last year, at work, an employee requested to switch places. When asked the reason for his move by several curious co-workers, he refused politely to give the real motive. As I later learned where he was previously seated, I understood immediately. The person sitting next to him was very talkative and inquisitive, and he had a hard time concentrating on his work. Yet, he did not wish to blemish her reputation. He acted very elegantly. This attitude is holy.
In November 2018, I viewed Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie about the British rock group Queen, which focused principally on their lead singer Freddie Mercury. I learned that despite his reportedly promiscuous lifestyle, he had a good heart, loving and protecting his family throughout his lifetime.
He never informed them of his homosexuality and later his AIDS condition, which was only announced publicly the day before he died. Merely a few people in his entourage knew of his illness. He never shared his anguish, choosing to bear his cross in silence, thus avoiding to significantly upset his deeply religious parents. It was a courageous and selfless resolution.
Growing in holiness is not so unachievable. It means, among others, to be loving, thoughtful, caring and kind.