Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City: Sanctification is “the principle and foundation of the Christian life, of all pastoral planning and pastoral work. … God creates us for holiness. God calls us to become saints.”

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He said that the universal call to holiness is “really the heart of the [Second Vatican] Council, the heart of Lumen Gentium for sure, so I’ve hit upon that for many years, even before coming here, trying to inculcate that call to holiness, that call to be saints. That’s what it means to be Christian.”

He had written, “Holiness is not the prerogative of an elite few. It is the fundamental vocation that every Christian receives in baptism,” and reflected that holiness is not privatized or individualistic, though its expression is unique to each person.

“I’m trying to speak to the distorted understanding of what holiness means,” Archbishop Coakley explained. People often “equate sanctity with piety, and certainly, saints are pious people, but I think genuine holiness is much more robust than that.”

“Holiness has to be attractive, if it’s going to be compelling,” he said, adding that a genuine holiness “will be attractive.”

“I’ve encountered so much resistance to the notion of holiness, because people have such a poor understanding of what holiness looks like; what holiness looks like in a family,” he noted.

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Editor’s note: Go make disciples of Jesus Christ – not necessarily disciples of Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, etc. Preach the authentic Gospel, in season and out. Not the watered down, touchy-feely, feminized and modernized version that has been foisted on Catholics for lo these many years. Then see what happens!

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

(10) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment.
(11) For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
(12) Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
(13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

What is the “wrath of God?”

The wrath of God is our experience of the total incompatibility of unrepented sin before the holiness of God.

The unrepentant sinner cannot endure the presence, and the holiness of God.There is for such a one wailing and grinding of teeth, anger and even rage when confronted by the existence of God and the demands of His justice and holiness.

God’s wrath does not mean in some simplistic sense that God is “mad” as if being emotionally worked up to fury. God is not moody and unstable. God is not subject to temper tantrums like we are. Rather this, God is holy, and the unrepentant sinner cannot endure his holiness, but experiences it as wrath.

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In spite of all the scandals, it’s nice to know that the Catholic Church still accomplishes its’ divine mission.

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There is probably never a moment during the day in which Mass is not being celebrated somewhere on this planet, where the Liturgy of the Hours is not being celebrated. At every moment, Catholic school bells ringing, the poor and sick attended to by the Church, confessions being heard, counsel being given.

Text and video

Editor’s note: Msgr. Charles Pope provides a much needed look at all the good things the Catholic Church continues to accomplish in the world. The short video is both inspiring and informative. And all this has been going on virtually nonstop, 24/7 and 365, for the last 2000 years!

Imitating Christ: How to Make Your Family Holy.

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The Holy Family of Jesus is the greatest example and model for all human families. The Holy Family, like our own, knew and experienced hardships and tensions.

We hear of one such episode in the Gospel which is the basis for both the third of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and the fifth of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary; the loss and finding of the child Jesus at the Temple.

As we meditate on this passage of Sacred Scripture (cf. Luke 2:41ff), we can relate to the emotions that Mary and Joseph experienced, the anxiety and joy, in realizing that they did not know where their child was and then finding him safe and well at the Temple.

Going deeper, we can each, perhaps, see in our own life the times when we have left Jesus behind… the anxiety when apart and the joy and peace that comes when we have again found Jesus in the center of our family.

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On Infant Baptism and the Complete Gratuity of Salvation

It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptized infants. Even our earliest documents speak of the practice. For example the Apostolic Tradition written about 215 A.D. has this to say:

The children shall be baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or someone else from their family. (Apostolic Tradition # 21)

Scripture too confirms that infants should be baptized if you do the math. For example

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:15-17 NIV)

So the Kingdom of God belongs to the little Children (in Greek brephe indicating little Children still held in the arms, babes). And yet elsewhere Jesus also reminds that it is necessary to be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of God:

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5 NIV)

If the Kingdom of God belongs to little children and we are taught that we cannot inherit it without baptism then it follows that Baptizing infants is necessary and that to fail to do so is a hindering of the little children which Jesus forbade his apostles to do.

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This week’s Ask Alice: Does the term “holy” rightly apply only to God, alone?



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Mario asks: My Protestant friend does not think Mary deserves the title “holy”. He states only God is holy and only God can be considered holy. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary truly holy? Why in the Hail Mary prayer does it use the word “holy” (as in “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners…”)?

Alice answers: The “Hail Mary” which Catholics pray, contains the exact words found in every Protestant, i.e., King James Bible!

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women.”
(Luke 1:28)

The archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary is the only time in the Bible that an angel praises a human being. In this Scripture verse, Gabriel proclaims that Mary has been perfected in grace. An angel is a messenger of God. Clearly, Gabriel proclaimed the message that Mary is holy because she was sinless. Also, Mary is holy because she carried, bore, and nurtured the Son of God.

“The power of the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)

Doesn’t your Protestant friend consider saints and angels to be holy? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word “holy” means, “Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power, sacred. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy man.”

The same dictionary defines “saint” as, ” a person who has died and gone to Heaven.” The definition for “blessed” is, “held in veneration, revered.”

All of the dictionary definitions, when compared, define “holy” as a title that befits the Blessed Virgin. To call Mary, the Mother of God, holy, is not only a Catholic truth, but, also, an example of correct English word usage as well!

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: In a Christian context, the word “holy” literally means to be permanently set apart for God’s service.

Leviticus 27:28 Any thing that is devoted to the Lord, whether it be man, or beast, or field, shall not be sold: neither may it be redeemed. Whatsoever is once consecrated shall be holy of holies to the Lord.

“Holy” also typically denotes spiritual fidelity, and a complete absence of sin.

Catholics experience holiness in Jesus Christ, through our worthy participation in the sacraments of the church, and by our active participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

The Blessed Virgin Mary experienced (and continues to experience) holiness in Jesus Christ, in a much more direct manner!

Like many of her contemporaries, Mary, the Mother of God, took a vow of holy virginity in the Temple, at a very young age. Under the Mosaic Law, Mary would remain a virgin, totally devoted to God, even after a subsequent marriage.

The relevant passages can be found in Numbers, chapter 30, where the Law of Moses specifically authorizes just such a vow.

If a woman vow any thing, and bind herself by an oath, being in her father’s house, and but yet a girl in age: if her father knew the vow that she hath promised, and the oath wherewith she hath bound her soul, and held his peace, she shall be bound by the vow: Whatsoever she promised and swore, she shall fulfil in deed. (Numbers 30:3-4)

While the mere taking of such a vow would not necessarily make a person holy, God’s election of that person, for the purpose of divine maternity, most certainly would. There’s absolutely no doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of God’s “elect”.

Talk about a “personal relationship” with God!
Of all Christians, Protestants, in particular,
ought to be able to easily understand and appreciate
this aspect of Mary’s holiness!

Divine Transformation:

On Mount Sinai, Moses was (literally) transformed after spending only 40 days with God.

And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant. And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was luminous from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them, And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord on Mount Sinai. And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face.
(Exodus 34:28-33)

For over 30 years, Mary shared her earthly dwelling place with Jesus, who is God, in the flesh. Imagine the effect the Son of God would have on his Blessed Mother, after spending more than 30 years with her?! Note that Mary also is routinely pictured, wearing a veil!

Apostolic Testimony:

The apostles and the disciples knew Mary, and they had no doubt that she was all of these things, and more … according to the power and grace of her son, Jesus, whose human body was divinely fashioned from Mary’s sinless and holy flesh.

The angel Gabriel hailed Mary as “full of grace”. To be “full” means just that … with no room at all in her soul for sin of any kind. God made her that way. He did it for himself … but mainly,
he did it for us.

Jesus Christ … “The holy that was born of thee” … was made of Mary’s own, holy flesh. While there’s no doubt that the power of God alone made that possible, the FACT remains!

The Bible tells us that nothing unholy can enter Heaven. That’s because God dwells in Heaven, with his angels and his saints, and his personal standard of holiness is infinitely high. Would the Father disrespect his son by providing for him (during his nine months in Mary’s womb) anything less than a sinless … and less than holy … human vessel, in which to dwell? Not likely!

Would Jesus accept a woman as his mother that was anything less than holy? Absolutely not! The “mission requirements” of the Messiah demanded a holy mother who would also serve as his most faithful and trusted disciple … one who could not be “turned” by the forces of evil.

For Mary, holiness was absolutely required.
God provided it, Mary willingly cooperated,
and Yahweh’s Salvation (Jesus) was born.
Case closed!

Testimony of the Scriptures:

God makes days holy:

Exodus 12:16 The first day shall be holy and solemn, and the seventh day shall be kept with the like solemnity: you shall do no work in them, except those things that belong to eating.

God makes Israel a holy nation:

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. These are the words thou shalt speak to the children of Israel.

God makes men holy:

Exodus 22:31 You shall be holy men to me: the flesh that beasts have tasted of before, you shall not eat, but shall cast it to the dogs.

God makes priestly vestments holy:

Exodus 28:2 And thou shalt make a holy vesture for Aaron, thy brother, for glory and for beauty.

God makes sacrificial vessels holy (bearing graven images, no less):

Exodus 28:36 Thou shalt make also a plate of the purest gold: wherein thou shalt grave with engraver’s work, Holy to the Lord.

God makes animal sacrifices and the hands of the priests who offer them, holy:

Exodus 29:33 That it may be an atoning sacrifice, and the hands of the offerers may be sanctified. A stranger shall not eat of them, because they are holy.

God makes the altar of sacrifice holy, as well as those who serve there:

Exodus 29:37 Seven days shalt thou expiate the altar and sanctify it, and it shall be most holy. Every one, that shall touch it, shall be holy.

God makes oil holy:

Exodus 30:25 And thou shalt make the holy oil of unction, an ointment compounded after the art of the perfumer,

God makes incense holy:

Exodus 30:35-36 And thou shalt make incense compounded by the work of the perfumer, well tempered together, and pure, and most worthy of sanctification. And when thou hast beaten all into very small powder, thou shalt set of it before the tabernacle of the testimony, in the place where I will appear to thee. Most holy shall this incense be unto you.

Because we are God’s children, and he is our God, he makes us holy, through our faithful observance of his laws and precepts:

Leviticus 11:44 For I am the Lord your God. Be holy because I am holy. Defile not your souls by any creeping thing, that moveth upon the earth.

Leviticus 20:7-8 Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy: because I am the Lord your God. Keep my precepts, and do them. I am the Lord that sanctify you.

God’s name is holy, simply because it is HIS name. Wouldn’t Mary be similarly holy simply because she is HIS (Jesus’) mother?:

Leviticus 22:32-33 Profane not my holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctify you: And who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 27:28 Any thing that is devoted to the Lord, whether it be man, or beast, or field, shall not be sold: neither may it be redeemed. Whatsoever is once consecrated shall be holy of holies to the Lord.

I can quote another 387 instances just like these, from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, where God makes various people, days, and things “holy”.

When God takes something or someone to himself and deems it “holy” … who can say otherwise?

This chapter from my book might also be of interest (link)

I hope this helps!

May God richly bless you and yours,

Doug

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

The Devil Is Afraid of Holiness

Ildefonso Schuster, the son of a Roman tailor, the Abbot of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls, and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan, was at the same time a scholar learned in the Church’s liturgy, in history, in art, in catechesis, spirituality, and archeology; he was a shepherd of souls, a diplomat, and a peace-maker. Beneath the scarlet robes of a Prince of the Church, he remained a monk, a child of Saint Benedict. Thus was he able to say:

Before all other things, and even above all things, O Venerable Brothers, we are essentially adorers. “This is how one should regard us, as ministers of Christ” (1 Cor 4:1). After that we must also be ministers of the people, the salt of the earth, and fishers of men, etc. but first, it is absolutely necessary that we be true servants of God: Ministers of Christ . . . appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God (Heb 5:1).

As Cardinal-Archbishop, Blessed Schuster never failed to direct the energies of his priests toward the One Thing Necessary. A few days before his death he withdrew to the seminary he had built and there he delivered a final message to his seminarians, warning them of the futility of an apostolate without personal holiness:

I have no memento to give you apart from an invitation to holiness. It would seem that people are no longer convinced by our preaching; but faced with holiness, they still believe, they still fall to their knees and pray.

People seem to live ignorant of supernatural realities, indifferent to the problems of salvation. But when an authentic saint, living or dead passes by, all run to be there.

Do not forget that the devil is not afraid of our [parish] sports fields and of our movie halls: he is afraid, on the other hand, of our holiness.

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