Christ leads to the holiness we all need

What is holiness? Defining it might seem to be quite a difficult task because the concept may seem to be too intangible or even subjective.

The Second Vatican Council – in "Lumen Gentium" – drew from Jesus’ call to perfection when it stated: "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness."

So, holiness is a universal vocation each of us is called to strive to attain. It is the perfection of love. It is an imitation of Christ.

Holiness is not an antiquated concept relegated to be lived out by only a select few. It is not beyond our reach. It is, wrote St. Teresa of Calcutta, "the simple duty for each one of us."

Pope Benedict XVI, when speaking about holiness, said "(holiness) expresses man’s perennial effort to reach God."

Our path to holiness passes direct through the cross because nothing will enter heaven that has not first been crucified with Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.

Love animates holiness because it is a participation in God’s way of being. Love restores the holiness lost by our sinfulness. It helps us imitate in our own lives the same reckless abandon to the will of the Father as Jesus. It motivates us to go the extra mile and to show mercy to those who have offered nothing but gall. Love enables us to forgive and to even remember misdeeds without hatred or recrimination.

Thus, holiness can be further defined as relating to our neighbor in the same manner God relates to us.

Remember, do not be afraid of the journey. Holiness is less about what we are doing and more about what Christ is doing through us, with us and in us. Living a holy life is radical and we will face many obstacles along the way.

All we must do is place ourselves in the hands of Jesus abandoning ourselves to his tender care. He will take us to where we need to be.


Father Walter Nolte is pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Omaha. Contact him at

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