The Key to Holiness is Prayer

Dear Friends in Christ:

To have a Happy Easter, we need to have a Holy Lent!  The same can be said about life, the key to happiness is holiness!  But how do we become holy? Well, a couple of pre-requisites help.  First, one has to WANT to become holy.  We have to desire holiness.  Sanctity doesn’t just fall from the sky or sit on a shelf waiting for us to pick it up. Second, we have to work at becoming holy.  It doesn’t happen automatically or magically. There are no special incantations or magic pills to take. If we desire holiness and are willing to work to become holy, God will do the rest. 

It is important to note that desiring holiness is not something we can strictly do on our own terms.  We cannot desire our own version of holiness. It is like the ‘donut diet’ where we can eat all the donuts we want and be trim and healthy. NOT. What we have to desire is not our own version of holiness but God’s holiness and how God desires us to be holy.  Jesus gives us a clear indication of this when he teaches us to pray “Thy will be done!” and not “my will be done!”

The second and again obvious point is that holiness requires effort on our part.  We have to not only desire what God wants us to be but also commit ourselves to it. This is where some people get confused.  They genuinely ask, “How can I know what God wants me to be?” Here too the answer is simple, ask Him!  Pray about it.  Prayer is that wonderful conversation between us and God who loves us.  Just ask; simply talk to God. Heart speaking to heart. God is there for us.  He is always there to hear us and to help us. The only prayer that God does not hear is the one never prayed. 
As we pray, we simply speak to God from our hearts. But again, some say “Why bother if God already knows everything?” Sure, God knows everything even before we ask him, but prayer is not about informing God or changing Him. Prayer changes us! When we open our hearts and turn our hearts over to God, it is the beginning of our being changed. When we lift our struggles, joys, sorrows, needs, questions, and burdens, they become our offerings to God.  This sacrificial offering is not one of bullocks or rams, but of our hearts, and it is born out of humility and trust. A humble, contrite heart O God you will not spurn.  Ps 51.  

Does praying do any good? What difference does it make? Some ask. Prayer is the most powerful tool we possess in trying to make our way through this journey of life.  Prayer is oxygen for our souls. That is why Jesus taught his disciples and us to pray and why the apostle Paul admonishes us to Pray unceasingly!” 1 Thes 5:17. We all face problems, challenges and difficulties. That is life.  But one of the best ways to handle these realities of life is to first pray for others! Before you pray for yourself and your needs, pray for your spouse, your kids, your parents, siblings, boss and co-workers, the neighbor down the street. Then take a good look at what you are trying to handle. Crazy politicians giving you heartburn? Pray for them! A demanding client driving you crazy?  Pray for her! Disturbed by the homeless guy who tries to wash your windshield. Pray for him too! When you catch yourself gossiping about someone or are listening to someone else gossip, remember to lift up everyone in prayer and ask for God’s goodness to be known by each one. Work, school or money problems got you worried?  Ask the Lord for guidance, put your trust in Him and get to work asking God’s blessings on your efforts. 

In my room in the rectory, I have a needlepoint that someone gave me when I was ordained.  It says, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” How very true. The key to happiness is holiness and the key to holiness is prayer!  Have a holy Lent!

In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy