Are you searching for holiness, wondering how to get there? Did you know that every Christian is called by God to become a saint, that is, to enter heaven when you die? Being holy means being close to God and we must take responsibility for our own holiness. Here are 5 Christian responsibilities which can lead to holiness, as outlined in A Way of Life for Young Catholics:
1. Learn about your faith
If we want to have a strong faith then we need to learn more about it. We spend hours learning about other things that interest us – why not learn about our Catholic faith? Get some good books. Find some good websites. Go to a good discussion group or prayer group that has some input. Do a course in the Catholic faith or in catechesis.
This means literally ‘sharing the Gospel’. We don’t all have to go out into the streets and tell people about Jesus. But we do all have a responsibility to witness to our faith in everyday life, and to share our faith with others when the opportunity occurs. Simple tips: Don’t hide your faith. If a conversation arises when religion or faith is the topic, don’t be shy about sharing your own beliefs. And have the courage to start conversations; to ask people what they think and believe, so you can understand them, and have a chance to share your own faith. Better still, invite your friends to some Catholic events that are taking place – to a prayer group or retreat or young people’s event. And pray. If you pray each morning for an opportunity to share your faith, you will be amazed how God will provide one – and it will seem like a miracle. We just need to be open, and brave. People are depending on us.’
3. Get involved in the world
Get involved in the issues of the day, and in the issues of the world in which you live. Vote: In local and national elections. Get involved in the social and political issues of your school, your college, your workplace, your neighbourhood, your town, your country. Don’t sit on the fence, or leave it to someone else. Don’t hide away in a Christian bubble. We are meant to be light and leaven in the world. We don’t just get involved ‘as Christians’ – we go in as ordinary people who have a stake in society, trying to be just and kind and fair. And sometimes our Christian values will be important, and we will need to stand up for them, and help others to see how needed they are. There is a great tradition in this country of lay Catholics being involved in politics – it is a wonderful vocation. But even if we are not ‘politicians’ we are still called to be political in the best sense of the word.
4. Support your parish
We support our parish simply by belonging and going to Sunday Mass and trying to be faithful Catholics. If we are over 18 we support the parish by making a financial offering at Mass each Sunday. If we pay tax, then it seems sensible to gift-aid it. There is a biblical tradition of ‘tithing’, of offering one tenth of our wages to the Church, and some Christians still follow this tradition. The important thing is to be generous in our giving, to set aside a generous offering each week, and not just to leave it to chance or to whatever is in our back pocket. Think about whether you could give perhaps not 10% (‘tithing’) but even 2% of your wages. And apart from money, we can support our parish in so many other ways: By volunteering when help is needed; by taking on a ministry if we are asked; by making constructive suggestions about what can be done in the parish; by loving and supporting our priests. We do not need to be ‘busy’ in the parish all the time, because we have many other responsibilities, but we do need to be generous with our time and energy.
5. Have a special concern for the poor
Look out for those in any kind of difficulty or need. Support them, in whatever way seems realistic, with your love and time and money and prayer. Those who are unnoticed or unpopular or unattractive; those who are lonely; the sick, the elderly; those with learning difficulties; the stranger, the newcomer, the one who cannot speak the right language. Those without homes or families or jobs. Those without faith or love or hope. We should have a special concern for the poor. We find Christ in them, and we bring the love of Christ to them – so that Christ is ‘all in all’. Generosity and self-sacrifice are two of the greatest Christian virtues – and deep down we are far happier when we are giving than when we are taking. But the real issue is love: To love all those we meet, with a sincere and kind and tender heart.