One of the grandest successes of the ancient enemy, the deceiver, is his triumph in convincing almost the whole of mankind that “holiness” is a smarmy, simpering falsity, indeed, a hypocrisy which actually covers a heaping pile of uncharitableness and every politically incorrect sentiment.
And yet Christ urges us to be holy even as He is holy. How did we ever get into such a mess, so far from God’s will in our culture, in the life of our Church! For now, we have churchmen, even to the very top of the hierarchy, who have given up on holiness, indeed, have reframed it into environmentalism! “Turn off the lights when you leave the room” has supplanted “Avoid the occasions of sin.”
Readers, we need to get back to holiness, seek it for ourselves as the great and necessary good that it is. To this end, we offer a brief essay on holiness by Father Arnoudt, author of the Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a book written in the manner of the great spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ. I have updated the writing a bit to make it easier to read, while keeping the meaning. My book of reference is a very old paperback with pages falling out, published by TAN Books in 1974, but many newer reprints are available at Abe Books or on Amazon. There are also e-versions available.
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1. The voice of Jesus. Be holy, My Child, because I am holy. Whosoever longs to be a perfect Disciple of My Heart, strives to become holy, even as I also am holy, by an interior, true, and solid holiness. Holiness is a great good, it contains all blessings desirable upon earth, and begets everlasting bliss in Heaven.
Holiness is the completion of virtue, the guardian of sanctifying grace, the preserver of inward peace, the nurse of the heart’s joy, and of ever enduring happiness. Holiness is true wisdom, real glory, inexhaustible wealth. To be the least of the Saints is something incomparably greater than to be the greatest of the whole material world.
What is there in this world that can justly be compared with holiness? not science, not dignity, not renown, not the possession of all riches. For all these things are only of earth, they last but for a moment; like vapors in the air, they glisten and soon disappear. But holiness is heaven–born and permanent, it glitters before the inhabitants of Heaven like the sun; yea, when the sun fades away, it shall continue to shine for evermore.
Let not, then, the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the strong man glory in his strength, let not the rich man glory in his wealth: but he that glories, let him glory in this, that he knows and loves Me; that, through love, he follows Me, and thus sanctifies himself. My Child, if you understand not these things at present you shall understand them later, even in spite of yourself, when, at the near approach of death, you shalt entertain more correct sentiments. . . .
You cannot value holiness too highly, since I Myself have held it in such esteem that, to make it possible and easy, I poured out the treasures of My Pierced Heart, multiplied the means at the greatest cost to Myself, and ordered all things for the sanctification of the Elect. Do you, therefore, aspire to so great a good, My Child: and strive to become a Saint.
2. The voice of the Disciple. I become a Saint, Lord! Ah me, Lord Jesus! for that, I have sinned too much during my life. And would it not be pride to feel such a presumption? and, moreover, I am so weak that I am unable to perform anything worthy of sanctity.
The voice of Jesus.–Do you say these things of yourself, My Child, or have others suggested it to you? If of yourself, you are mistaken: if at the suggestion of others, you have been deceived.
And first, if you have sinned during your life, behold! this is a new reason why you should sanctify yourself, that thus, by the future, you may make amends for the past. But, My Child, there is no question of what you have been, but of what you ought to be hereafter. How many souls there are, that after having committed sins, have reached, in a shorter time, a higher degree of perfection than others that have ever remained innocent!
And this, because they used the remembrance of the sins which they had unfortunately committed, and which had been most mercifully forgiven by Me, as a spur, to urge and goad themselves on to sanctity. The sins that have been committed are, therefore, not only no hindrances, but, if you are willing, may be instruments of holiness.
Besides, My Child, to strive after the perfection of virtue, to aspire to sanctity, is not pride nor presumption, but greatness, but nobleness of soul, without which no one is worthy to be a Disciple of My Heart. These things I say: and take heed which of the two you will believe: Me, or the deceiver, who suggests the contrary because he is your enemy.
Beware, My Child, lest, after being deluded, you become fainthearted, and, consequently, incapable of aspiring to those things which alone are most deserving of the aspirations of every noble heart. Raise your courage, cast aside all littleness of heart, and cherish sentiments worthy of a Disciple of My Heart.
Lastly, if you are weak, am not I strong? If you can not undergo austerities, are you not able to love? If thou can not act, are you not able to suffer? Now, it is most of all by loving and by suffering that holiness is acquired. It is not by extraordinary works, not by miracles; but, by love, a patient love, that the sanctification of the soul is chiefly promoted.
Endeavor, for love of Me, to suffer patiently whatsoever I Myself may choose, and give you to endure: and, behold! you shall become a Saint. If the things which the world calls great could be acquired with as much ease, what worldling would not secure their possession?
3. A constant desire of making progress, a continual striving after holiness, is rightly thought to constitute man’s sanctity in this life. None is perfect in holiness, who does not exert himself to become more perfect: and the more one aims at greater perfection, the more holy does he prove himself to be. Wherefore, My Child, the perfection of holiness is not the work of a day or a week. Do not, then, imagine that you shall be perfect in so short a time. For, by expecting this, and finding yourself afterward disappointed, you might lose heart, or even be dangerously tempted to desist from further attempts.
Perfection is the joint work of Divine grace and man’s cooperation. Now, the goodness of My Heart, which wills that you should be a Saint, is much more inclined bountifully to bestow grace upon you than you are to ask for it: nay, even of Its own accord, My Heart pours grace upon you. The more faithfully, therefore, you cooperate with grace, the shorter the time in which you shall gain possession of sanctity.
4. If you have a constant and effectual will of sanctifying yourself, naught can hinder you from becoming a Saint. Whatever may be your natural inclination, you will acquire holiness, not by the disposition of your character, but by the cooperation with My grace through your free will. Neither your character, nor your state of life, nor your employment, will hinder you, if, with a generous fidelity of heart, you cooperate with Divine grace.
For holiness does not depend on being inscribed in the Catalogue of the Blessed or Saints; because this does not make the Saint, but simply declares to men that he was such. If you are a Saint in Heaven; being perfectly conformed to the Divine good pleasure, you will, of yourself, care little whether or not your name is found on earth registered in the Canon.
Neither, in fine, can temptations and difficulties present an obstacle. For, whatsoever Hell can contrive, whatsoever the world may attempt against you, all this, if you are willing, shall be made to contribute to your sanctification.
5. It is indeed true that he who desires to acquire holiness should avoid all, even the slightest, sins: but involuntary faults, which arise from human frailty, are no hindrances to perfection. Even the greatest Saints were not altogether free from such miseries: and, so long as they lived upon earth, they experienced the frailty of their human nature.
Be not troubled and uneasy about these things, wherein the will does not consciously take any part: a person may be very perfect, although he frequently offends involuntarily. According to the example of the Saints, lessen involuntary defects as much as you can, and, with quiet love, humble yourself before Me for these faults: in this manner you will derive profit from them for your progress.
6. This being so, My Child, pay no heed to those who, under some pretense or other, may turn you from the pursuit of holiness,–neither to yourself, nor to any mortal, nor any spirit whatsoever. But, with a generous mind, that knows not despondency, continue to strive after interior sanctity. This sanctity is so important a matter, so full of honor, and so grateful to Me, that sometimes one soul, thus sanctifying herself interiorly, glorifies Me more,–is more pleasing to Me, and possesses more influence over My Heart, than a thousand others, that, although good, rest satisfied with an ordinary virtue.
Know you, My Child, that holiness, to a certain degree, is truly necessary to be admitted into the presence of the Divine Majesty; because without holiness, none shall see God. If you do not attain to this necessary holiness in the present life, you must be purified with fire unto holiness in the life to come, before you enter Heaven, into which naught, except what is holy, can gain admittance. Yet, for your consolation, remember, My Child, that if you keep a good and efficacious will of sanctifying yourself, you shall not taste death, until you have acquired sanctity.
Meanwhile, never think that you have already attained to holiness, or that you are perfect: but continue to advance and pursue the destined prize of holiness. Be of good courage, My Child, and dare things worthy of a Disciple of My Heart: vie in zeal with the Saints, your noble brothers and sisters. What you are, they have been: what they are, you can be.
7. The voice of the Disciple. I then, O Lord Jesus, even I, the least of men, must and can become a Saint. Yea I must; because You command me so, because I am obliged to correspond to so many singular favors and graces, which You have bestowed upon me; because I am bound to satisfy, as much as I am able, the essential obligations, which I owe to You, for the mercy shown to me after my many sins; because I must have a care of my salvation, and prepare myself for Heaven; but, more than all, because You are supremely worthy of all love and honor.
And I can; because You give me abundant and efficacious means;
- because You, ready to supply all the rest, demand naught, except that I make the attempt with a sincere will;
- because nothing can hinder me, unless I myself so will it;
- because all things whatsoever, if I will, can help me and cause me to advance;
- because, finally, the whole work of my sanctification is simply a labor of love, love for You, love which renders all things possible.
Therefore, I long to be a Saint, not that, on earth, I may be numbered among the Saints, but that, in Heaven, I may glorify You among the Elect: not so much through fear of pain or hope of reward, as through love for You, most kind and sweet Jesus, that I may more and more love You and honor You, now and for evermore.
Behold! O Lord Jesus, I have the will to become a Saint; so long as I draw breath, I shall not cease to will it: I beg and entreat You, by Your most Sacred Heart, to help my good will; strengthen it and help me persevere for love of You.
Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!
† . Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† . Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† . Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† . St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† . St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!