Reflections on Holiness, Volume II, #1001. Part 2of 3 ( On the Writings of St. Maximilian) by Annette Leib, President, M.I. Canada
Essence of Holiness
“The essence of holiness consists in loving God to the point of heroism. Its hallmark is the fulfillment of God’s will, especially as expressed in the commandments of God and of the Church in the duties of one’s state of life. It’s means are (1) continuous self-vigilance in order to know one’s flaws and uproot them, engraft the virtues, …(2) prayer, whereby the soul obtains God’s supernatural graces, indispensable to the spiritual progress.” Fr. M.K.. Volume II (Rycerz Niepokalanej, March 1922)
What does it mean to grow in holiness? Basically, Maximilian equates “holiness” with our “love for God” to the point of heroic love. So what basic characteristic is attributed to a hero or heroine? Generally, such persons are renowned for their courage and boldness especially if their action is done in a truly selfless way. A classic example is a fireman dashing into a burning building to save someone or a police putting his/her life in immediate danger in a crisis to save the life of a helpless person. There are countless examples but an attribute that makes one “heroic” is the selfless action that goes beyond an individual’s normal response by putting one’s life on the line for another.
So to grow in holiness to the point of “heroism” is to become totally “selfless” or “self-giving” in our love for God. It really means to make a constant effort to turn away from self-centeredness or sin, but to do so we have to come to know the nature of “sin” in our thoughts, words and actions. When we make an honest effort to obey the commandments of God and to fulfill our daily duties in the spirit of self-giving to others, we grow not only in our love for others bur for God as well. This is a gradual process that is done in cooperation with the grace of God that comes from trying to please Him in our daily lives.
God’s will is always an expression of His love for us, but our human will is often in conflict with His. We are drawn to an apparent form of goodness that may lead to sin, but God’s will is always genuine goodness. If we freely choose to obey His will we grow in holiness. To surrender oneself completely without limits to the Will of God is a sign of “heroic love.” This is an ongoing process as our human nature tends to its own self-interests and desires if it is not imbued with the power of divine love. God’s love reaches down to the level of our humanity to heal and transform us into the likeness of His image. Prayer is the foundation of this process as it connects us to God, the source of love.