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Reflections: Increase Holiness Sectn. (Misc.)


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Misc. / Holiness



Misc. / Holiness

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"Holiness is the one only thing, when life is ended, that can be called a true gain" (Liturgical Year)

"A man is of very little worth who though excelling in dignity, excels not in knowledge and holiness." (Pope St. Symmachus)

"Holiness is simply to do God's will, always and everywhere." (St. Vincent Pallotti)

"To do God's will until death, that is the inner heart of all holiness." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

"To obtain the gift of holiness is the work of a life." (Cardinal Newman)

"I hear a voice within me that persistently tells me, Be holy and have a holy influence." [St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)]

"Holiness is the most powerful force that leads human hearts to Christ." (Pope John Paul II)

"Have you begun to stop trying to defend your sins? Then you have made a beginning of righteousness." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Sanctity alone merits crowns that endure through all ages of time and for all eternity; for God is the final awarder." (Liturgical Year)

"A soul's development never goes beyond the measure of her faith." (Liturgical Year)

"God desires the least degree of purity of conscience in you more than all the works you can perform." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"God desires the least degree of obedience more than all those services you think of rendering Him." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"[B]efore God heroic acts of hidden virtue are not inferior to the noble deeds that dazzle the world, if, proceeding from the same ardent love, they produce in the soul the same increase of divine charity" (Liturgical Year)

"[H]e who does not want to master himself is not able to do so, and he who wishes to master himself relying only upon his own powers, without sincerely and perseveringly seeking divine help, will be miserably deceived." (Pope Pius XII)

"For the spirit of the flesh desires and is most eager to have words, but [cares] little to carry them out. And it does not seek a religion and holiness in the interior spirit, but it wishes and desires to have a religion and holiness outwardly apparent to people." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Virtue does not consist in making good resolutions, nor in saying fine words, but in keeping one's resolutions and carrying out one's good intentions." (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

"As a good gardener works from morning till night to destroy the weeds in his garden and fill it with flowers, so let us work every day to destroy the blemishes of our soul and adorn it with virtues." (St. John Vianney)

"The Holy Spirit is truly holy. No other is such, not in the same way; for He is holy not by an acquiring of holiness but because He Himself is Holiness; not more holy at one time and less holy another time; for there is no beginning in time of His being holy, nor will there ever be an end of it." (St. Gregory of Nazianz, Doctor of the Church, circa 379 A.D.)

"Principalities and Powers and all the rest of the creatures of the same sort, who are shown by attention and study to have holiness, cannot be said to be holy of their very nature. Yearning to possess the good, they receive a measure of holiness in proportion to their love of God...the holiness that is in angels is their by reason of their participating in [His nature]." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 364 A.D.)

"If a person has true virtue, nothing whatever can change him; he is like a rock in the midst of a tempestuous sea. If anyone scorns you, or calumniates you, if someone mocks you or calls you a hypocrite or a sanctimonious fraud, none of this will have the least effect upon the peace of your soul. You will love him just as much as you loved him when he was saying good things about you. You will not fail to do him a good turn and to help him, even if he speaks badly of your assistance." (St. John Vianney)

"A man, who gives himself up entirely to exterior exercises without looking seriously into his own heart to see what passes there, imposes upon himself, imagining that he is something while he is nothing. His eyes being always fixed on his exterior actions, he flatters himself that he goes on well, and neither sees nor feels the secret worm which gnaws and consumes his heart." (St. Bernard)

"Pray for us, that our piety may be that of the Gospel, and not the fashionable piety which pleases the world, and makes us pleased with ourselves." (Gueranger)

"If with some who know God, but do not glorify God, that knowledge profits them nothing unto salvation, how should those be able to be righteous before God, who, though they have some goodness in their moral conduct and actions, have goodness of such a kind that they cannot refer it to the ends of Christian faith and love? Certainly such people can possess a certain kind of goodness, which pertains to the justice of human society, but because it is not the product of faith in God and love of God, it is not able to assist them." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, 6th century A.D.)

"Every time we are able to give up our own wishes in favor of those of other people, so long as it is not contrary to the will of God, we acquire great merit." (St. John Vianney)

"The best means of being reserved is to think frequently that God sees you." (St. Vincent de Paul)

"If you want to stay close to God, you must not be sullied by any of the vices of this world." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Blessed are they who ardently crave sanctity, for their desire shall be fulfilled." (St. Vincent Pallotti)

"...not to be thought holy so much as to be holy" (St. Benedict)

"[S]anctity...ultimately consists in the love of God" (Pope Leo XIII, "Divinum Illud Munus", 1897)

"Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"It becomes us not only to shun evil, but also to do good" (St. Theophylact)

"We must also avoid sin with fervor, and not coldly and quietly." (St. Theophylact)

"[W]hen life is over there is no longer any opportunity for the improving of piety." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[O]ne virtue without the other is either of no account whatever, or very imperfect" (St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he more peril there was in the battle, so much the more joy will there be in the triumph." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The affections of the heart are more acceptable to God than external acts." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now turning away from evil is directed as a means to the gaining of good." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[I]t is a small thing not to do evil, unless also men strive to labor in good works" (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"The virtues are connected and linked together, so that whoever has one, is seen to have several" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"There is no order so holy, nor place so retired, where there are not temptations and adversities." (Kempis)

"In our actions we must always choose the most perfect." (St. John Vianney)

"It is always a sign of presumption to imagine ourselves able to handle hot coals without burning ourselves." (Camus)

"Man advances in the way to God, not merely by actual increase of charity, but also by being disposed to that increase." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Our sanctification consists entirely in conformity to the will of God." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"Of no use are all the other fortifications, as long as there is one place which the enemy has left defenseless." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"We ought to pray even for sinners, that they may be converted, and for the just that they may persevere and advance in holiness." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For as our sons after the flesh resemble their fathers in some part of their bodily shape, so do spiritual sons resemble their father God, in holiness." (Pseudo-Chrys, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

"[N]ot only what is known to be evil, but also everything which has the appearance of evil, should be specially avoided by perfect men." (Council of Vienne)

"To stay and wither in their native sickly state, is the lot only of those, who resist the Divine invitation and refuse to make a right use of their liberty." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930)

"Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943)

"Faith, hope and charity subject the mind to God, so that there can be nothing excessive in them. It is different with external acts, which sometimes have no connection with these virtues." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"But the Lord allays the fears of carnal men, that no one trembling at the consciousness of his guilt, or astonished at the innocence of others, might be afraid to undertake the journey of holiness." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"For holiness is, a proper observance of our duty towards God, righteousness of our duty towards man; as, for example, when a man devoutly performs the Divine commands, and lives honorably among his fellow men." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The whole object of Christian doctrine and morality is that 'we being dead to sin, should live to justice' (I Peter ii., 24) - that is, to virtue and holiness. In this consists the moral life, with the certain hope of a happy eternity. (Pope Leo XIII, "Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus", 1900)

"For we fight: against spiritual wickedness in high places; but there presses upon us a multitude also of other enemies, fleshly lust, the law of sin raging in our members, and various passions, that is, a dreadful multitude of enemies" (St. Cyril, Doctor of the Church)

"Gregory... says (Moralium xxii,1) that 'a virtue cannot be perfect' as a virtue, 'if isolated from the others: for there can be no true prudence without temperance, justice and fortitude': and he continues to speak in like manner of the other virtues." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[I]t requires a diligent and well ordered study on our part to be able to know and praise our Redeemer ever more and more. It requires a serious effort and constant practice to imitate His mysteries, to enter willingly upon His path of sorrow and thus finally share His glory and eternal happiness." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"Imagine thyself always to be the servant of all, and look upon all as if they were Christ our Lord in person; and so shalt thou do Him honor and reverence." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"Holiness is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, who was poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and a giving of oneself on their behalf and for their true good; it is love for the Church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because this is the mission that Christ entrusted to her." (Pope John Paul II)

"And after their example we order our life, that as they living together without evil, are prepared to welcome their Lord's return (Lk. 12:37), so we also, keeping watch at the door, should make ourselves ready to obey Him when He comes knocking; for it follows, that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Virtue can be recovered by penance as regards that which is formal in virtue, but not as to that which is material therein. For if a magnificent man has squandered all his wealth he does not recover his riches by repenting of his sin. In like manner a person who has lost virginity by sin, recovers by repenting, not the matter of virginity but the purpose of virginity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For whosoever either departs from God's service before he dies, or by any uncleanness stains either the strictness or purity of his faith, or strives to be holy and righteous before men, and not before God, does not yet serve the Lord in perfect freedom from the hand of his spiritual enemies, but after the example of the old Samaritans endeavors to serve equally the gods of the Gentiles, and his Lord." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"How can a truly virtuous man fail in anything? In what situation will he not be powerful; in what state of poverty will he not be rich; in what obscurity will he not be brilliant; in what inaction will he not be industrious; in what infirmity will he not be vigorous; in what weakness will he not be strong; in what solitude will he not be accompanied? For he will have for company the hope of a happy eternity; for clothing, he will have the grace of the Most High; for ornament, the promises of a halo of glory!" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"[P]rogress in the Christian life does not consist in the multiplicity and variety of prayers and exercises of piety, but rather in their helpfulness towards spiritual progress of the faithful and constant growth of the Church universal. For the eternal Father 'chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and unspotted in His sight.' All our prayers, then, and all our religious practices should aim at directing our spiritual energies towards attaining this most noble and lofty end." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"[C]harity does not actually increase through every act of charity, but each act of charity disposes to an increase of charity, in so far as one act of charity makes man more ready to act again according to charity, and this readiness increasing, man breaks out into an act of more fervent love, and strives to advance in charity, and then his charity increases actually... Every act of charity merits everlasting life, which, however, is not to be bestowed then and there, but at its proper time. In like manner every act of charity merits an increase of charity; yet this increase does not take place at once, but when we strive for that increase." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If only we encase ourselves in the armor of salvation against such a conflict, once we begin to refrain from sinning, we shall little by little blunt the edge of the enemy's attack and sap his strength; until at length we shall wing our flight to that place of repose, where triumph and boundless joy will be ours. The credit of the victory is to be ascribed solely to the grace of God, which within us gives light to the mind and strength to the will, when we rise superior to so many hindrances and contests. It is the grace of God, We say. For as He created us, so is He able, through the treasures of His wisdom and power, to set aflame and fill our hearts wholly with His love." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930)

"[M]an needs to exercise himself at the same time in the matters of all moral virtues. And if he exercise himself, by good deeds, in all such matters, he will acquire the habits of all the moral virtues. But if he exercise himself by good deeds in regard to one matter, but not in regard to another, for instance, by behaving well in matters of anger, but not in matters of concupiscence; he will indeed acquire a certain habit of restraining his anger; but this habit will lack the nature of virtue, through the absence of prudence, which is wanting in matters of concupiscence. In the same way, natural inclinations fail to have the complete character of virtue, if prudence be lacking." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now there are three obstacles to our attainment of beatitude. First, there is sin, which directly excludes a man from the kingdom, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, 'Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God'; and to this refer the words, 'Forgive us our trespasses.' Secondly, there is temptation which hinders us from keeping God's will, and to this we refer when we say: 'And lead us not into temptation,' whereby we do not ask not to be tempted, but not to be conquered by temptation, which is to be led into temptation. Thirdly, there is the present penal state which is a kind of obstacle to a sufficiency of life, and to this we refer in the words, 'Deliver us from evil" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For accusing ourselves in our confessions and refusing the spirit's consent to our fleshly lusts, we stir up against us the enmity of him who is the author of sin, but secure a peace with God that nothing can destroy, by accepting His gracious service, in order that we may not only surrender ourselves in obedience to our King but also be united to Him by our free-will. For if we are likeminded, if we wish what He wishes, and disapprove what He disapproves, He will finish all our wants for us, He Who gave the will, will also give the power: so that we may be fellow-workers in His works, and with the exultation of Faith may utter that prophetic song: 'the Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? the Lord is the defender of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Our Lord having taught His disciples moderation, taking from them all care and conceit of this life, now leads them on to serve and obey, saying, Let your loins be girded, that is, always ready to do the work of your Lord, and your lamps burning, that is, do not lead a life in darkness, but have with you the light of reason, showing you what to do and what to avoid. For this world is the night, but they have their loins girded, who follow a practical or active life. For such is the condition of servants who must have with them also lamps burning; that is, the gift of discernment, that the active man may be able to distinguish not only what he ought to do, but in what way; otherwise men rush down the precipice of pride. But we must observe, that He first orders our loins to be girded, secondly, our lamps to be burning. For first indeed comes action, then reflection, which is an enlightening of the mind. Let us then strive to exercise the virtues, that we may have two lamps burning, that is, the conception of the mind ever shining forth in the soul, by which we are ourselves enlightened, and learning, whereby we enlighten others." (St. Theophylact)

"The service of God is not only our most important, but our sole work. This is so obvious that it requires only to be stated. Time and words would alike be wasted in the attempt to prove it. Yet, alas! even spiritual persons need to be reminded of this elementary truth. Let us subject ourselves to a brief examination upon it. Are we thoroughly convinced it is true? Has our past life shown proof of it? Is our present life modeled upon it? Are we taking pains that our future life shall be so? What is the result when we compare our worldly promptitude and industry with our preference of the service of God over all other things? Are we in any way on the lookout for His greater glory, or our own greater union with Him? Is it plain at first sight that we have no object or pursuit so engrossing and so decidedly paramount as the service of God? The spirit in which we serve Him should be entirely without reserve. Need I prove this? What is to be reserved? Can there be reserves with God? Can His sovereignty be limited, or our love of Him ever reach the measure of enough? But have we no reserve with Him now? Is there really no corner of our heart over which He is not absolute Lord? Does He ask of us freely what He wills, and do we do our best to give Him all He asks? Have we no implicit condition with Him that He is only so far with us and no further? Is our outward life utterly and unconditionally dependent on Him? And if it is, is the kingdom of our inward intentions reposing peaceably beneath His unquestioned sceptre? It is of importance not to allow ourselves to rest in any pursuit except the service of God. By resting I mean feeling at home, reposing on what we do, forgetting it is a mere means even when we do not err so far as to mistake it for an end, being contented with what we are, not pushing on, nor being conscious that we are fighting a battle and climbing a hill. Nothing can excuse the neglect of the duties of the position in life which God has conferred upon us. All is delusive where these are not attended to and made much of. They are, as it were, private sacraments to each one of us. They are our chief, often our sole, way of becoming saints. But while we perform them with all the peaceful diligence which the presence of God inspires, we must jealously realize that they are means, not ends, subordinate and subservient to the great work of our souls. No amount of external work, not the unsleeping universal heroism of a St. Vincent de Paul, can make up for the want of attention to our own souls, such as resting in our external work would imply. Hence we should be jealous of any great pleasure in our pursuits, even when they are works of Christian mercy and love. It is always a pleasure to do good, yet it must be watched, moderated, and kept in check, or it will do us a mischief before we are aware. The thought of eternity is a good help to this. It brings down the pride of external work, and takes the brightness and color out of our successes; and this is well, for such brightness and color are nothing more than a reflection of ourselves and our own activity." (Fr. Faber)

"God's gifts whereby we are withdrawn from sin, are two: one is the acknowledgment of the truth, against which there is the resistance of the known truth, when, namely, a man resists the truth which he has acknowledged, in order to sin more freely: while the other is the assistance of inward grace, against which there is envy of a brother's spiritual good, when, namely, a man is envious not only of his brother's person, but also of the increase of Divine grace in the world. On the part of sin, there are two things which may withdraw man therefrom: one is the inordinateness and shamefulness of the act, the consideration of which is wont to arouse man to repentance for the sin he has committed, and against this there is impenitence, not as denoting permanence in sin until death, in which sense it was taken above (for thus it would not be a special sin, but a circumstance of sin), but as denoting the purpose of not repenting. The other thing is the smallness or brevity of the good which is sought in sin, according to Romans 6:21: 'What fruit had you therefore then in those things, of which you are now ashamed?' The consideration of this is wont to prevent man's will from being hardened in sin, and this is removed by obstinacy, whereby man hardens his purpose by clinging to sin. Of these two it is written (Jeremiah 8:6): 'There is none that doth penance for his sin, saying: What have I done?' as regards the first; and, 'They are all turned to their own course, as a horse rushing to the battle,' as regards the second." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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