Growing in Holiness in the Parish

“You have to be holy in your position as you are, and I have to be holy in the position that God has put me. So it is nothing extraordinary to be holy. Holiness is not the luxury of the few. Holiness is a simple duty for you and for me. We have been created for that.”
Mother Theresa

We know that we are called to holiness. “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Pet 1:15-16). Some have the idea that holiness is just equivalent to being prayerful, religious, or even ascetic. While these can be part of being holy, these are not enough, especially if they are mere external practices.

Instead, embracing the reality of living in the parish, accepting the many joys and sorrows that come my way, and learning to love and serve all people as they are, are some of the ways which help me grow in holiness as I continue to serve God's people as parish priest.

Here are some of my thoughts of growing in holiness in the parish which I have internalised by using the acronym “H-O-L-I-N-E-S-S”:

H = Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit plays an important role as we grow in holiness in our family, community, parish, and society.
O = Old Testament:
In the Old Testament, God set apart a people not because they were holy, but in order to make them holy, through Circumcision and the Commandments. Holiness is to be set apart for the service of God rather than for the service of self.
L = Love:
Loving God and loving neighbour are the two equally great commandments which sum up the love we strive to give to all as we grow in holiness.
I = Internal Holiness:
While man looks at externalities, God is concerned with our deepest internal motivations, which is, why we do what we do.
N = New Testament:
If the Old Testament symbol of holiness is found in the commandments, the New Testament symbol for holiness is found in the cross. As disciples of Jesus, we strive to listen, understand and do God’s will as we take up our cross to follow him.
E = Emptying oneself
In our efforts to grow in holiness, He must increase while we decrease. This means emptying oneself and giving all glory to God.
S = Service:
As we grow in holiness, we give service to all without expecting fame or recognition, for if we wish to be first, we must first be last and the servant of all.
S = Suffering:
Suffering is an integral part of growing in holiness. We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified in Him” (Romans 8:17).

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