May 18, 2016: Become Beautiful

~by Louis Templeman


Hebrews 12: 10, 14 “. . . that we may share in holiness . . . . Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Holiness is absorbed, not learned. You cannot attain holiness by listening to sermons or reading. Holiness is not imparted by passing on teaching. It does not come through processing information. It comes from being close to the Holy One.

When I was 12-years old I was pretty clueless and naïve. And, let me add, without social or practical skills. My friend Dick on the other hand not only knew to stand up when a woman came in the room but he could change spark-plugs, solder electrical fittings and fix the brakes on his ten-speed bicycle. All of it amazed me, the social amenities as well as the handyman abilities.

One day I was in his company when his father came in. I was floored. His father treated him like a man. His father showed him respect. Their conversations were not full of silliness, or sarcasm or insults which was typical when my brothers and I were together with our father. Dick, I discovered, acted just like his father. In fact, Dick treated me like his father treated him, with respect. I felt honored just being around him. Dick had never read a book about his dad, or paid attention to his mother’s complaints about his Dad or memorized all of his Dad’s pithy and wise sayings, which were few. He was like his Dad because he spent so much time with him.

This leads me to a teaching by St. Pio who taught that our main focus in life should be in prayer. Holiness, he taught, comes through prayer and prayer alone. He said we must learn “to pray well and pray often.” The prayer time he referred to is not the recitation of a litany of complaints or a wish list or a things-to-do-list that we offer up to God. Rather, it refers to times spent in silence before the Presence of God; time spent in adoration; or slow, worshipful reading of Holy Scripture. Only by spending time with our Father will we become like him.

It can be a fearful thing to read the following admonition:

For I, the LORD, am your God, and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy (Leviticus 11:44).

However, properly understood, it is not a call to impossible demands but an invitation to spend time with the One who loves you so much. When I began my attempts to pray well and often and spend as much time as possible with the Holy Spirit I would take baby steps like making many repetitions of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” This is a repetition but not a vain repetition – there are vain repetitions but not all repetitions are vain. I added this prayer in the morning or evening with slow deliberate meditation on Bible verses.

Eventually, a few minutes turned to fifteen, and then a half-hour daily and even more. Prayer can become our very breath. And, holiness can become the great goal of our lives. And, never forget, true holiness is very attractive. It attracts, never repeals. Scripture speaks of the beauty of holiness. Spend time with God. Become beautiful.

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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