Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 14, 2022

The Call to Holiness has Escalated

“The Vision of St. Paul,” – carried into Holiness – Nicolas Poussin, 1649-50

To us in the Catholic Church, in this tumultuous and troubling and dangerous time, a crucially important moment has come.  Our ancient call, our vocation and purpose, has risen to a significance that could terrify us, if we stood alone to hear and respond to it.  Yet it is also a whisper and not a trumpet blast.  It is to be heard in the depths of our hearts, not proclaimed from the mountain tops.  The call is to be responded to as His mother-to-be responded, with her unspoken “yes” and in her entire being, a bow of obedience to His word.  The call to the Faithful Church today, to make present His divine Presence in human flesh and blood, really and actually, demands our “yes” in complete sincerity and truth.  A new incarnation is yet to come, but it will.

The call to holiness, to the perfection of charity, was issued by Jesus in His first and comprehensive sermon recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5 – 7, “the Sermon on the Mount.”  In the context of love, of how we are to love and whom we are to love, He called us to love as He loves, as God loves, with the purity and depth of love the Church calls holy charity. He said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:43-48)

The Church, in the most recent Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, echoed this call later rewritten in our Catechism:

All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (CCC 2013)

I put this call before myself, and before you who would read this, fully realizing the weight – the difficulty – the costs – of this Truth of God.  This Truth, Jesus lived.  He came among us with the Cross awaiting Him, and He let us know, if we have been listening, that the Cross is inseparable from the Gospel of the Kingdom – the Gospel of salvation – the Gospel of Eternal Life that He proclaimed and lived in His brief time here on earth.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24)
And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34)
And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Lk 9:23-25)

This cross, each cross bearing our personal individual names, the names of those members of His Body, is for us what His Cross was for Him: the total Gift of Self for the true good of God’s creation.  The world today, teetering on the edge of the chasm of destruction by the leadings of the evil one, is in desperate need of God’s holy and saving grace.  God’s Church, sent to be light for this dark and darkening world, has been infiltrated, infected, corrupted by the spirit of that evil one.  She, His Bride-to-be, has to large part been weakened into worldliness, into tepidity, into compromise with the spirit of this world.

Satan gathering his fallen angels – “They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprung” 1866, by Gustav Doré for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” (Public Domain)

The idolatry of Self and the love of this world have been dressed up and made presentable within many parishes and dioceses of the Church even to the Vatican, even to the chair of Peter.  The Church – the mother-in-law of the Peter of today – has been found in her sick bed; the Lord has come to raise her up:

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. (Mt 8:14-15)

What are we to do? What is this “call”, this response that God awaits from us?  I am hearing this: He is calling for our total self-gift of Truth, in holy Love, our cross in participation with His.  Holy Mother the Church awaits a lifting up, to serve Him again in the fullness of her heart.  Her healing is needed, because her fever is grave at this time.  Holy Mother Mary, hidden in some ways for her safety in these evil times, awaits the work of her children, the works of holiness and the perfection of charity.  Her prayers will guard and protect us.

What is the work to which God is calling you?  What is your vocation in Christ?  Seek it, brothers and sisters, and resolve to live it relying on His light and grace to empower you.  Seek it in prayer, seek it in His word Holy Scripture, seek it in the whispers and signs He will place for you.  Seek it in loving mercy, praying for those who persecute, abuse and lie to you, even those who have brought sickness and corruption into His Holy Church.  The mother-in-law is not the true Mother, but she nevertheless is to be offered the healing hand of Christ in His Body, that she too might stand up and serve Him.


  1. Thanks Thomas, for these encouraging Words. For these are difficult times! The Call to Holiness is so important for us to “Hear with the Ears of our Hearts” that we May Listen and do the Truth we hear from God, as our Mother Mary did.

    • Thank you for your comment, Deborah. It is remarkable to me that “the call to holiness” was much in vogue in the days following Vatican II. So many parishes, it seems, for days and years following the Council echoed that phrase and used (or abused) it to promote any number of parish-leadership’s interpretation of what exactly “holiness” means. The word was bent any and every such way as to fit into this “new catechesis program” or that “latest catechesis program” written and marketed to fuel the emerging “lay formation” emphasis – within the new “parish renewal” imperative – as heard from the Council. If the truth of holiness had been heard and received and obeyed, nurtured and grown, from then until now, this would be a different world, I believe.

  2. So beautiful, dear brother Thomas. I pray our church will sober up and immerse themselves in Jesus before He comes again. And I pray that I will respond with a “yes” to whatever I am called to do. Our God is so worthy of our love and obedience.

    • Amen to that, sister Susan. Sobriety – clear-headed and clear-hearted discernment – seems to be scarce in our culture so intoxicated, so self-insulated from reality. There is a firm, rock-solid foundation of Truth made available to us all, if only we would seek it! May every one of us pray that very same prayer with you.

  3. Thank you, Tom, for your encouraging words… These are very difficult times in our country also as well as in our Holy Church, and we most definitely need to pray for our Pope on down.
    …there are too many wolves in sheep’s clothing….
    God Bless you and Deb for all you do.

    • Yes we do need to pray – and to be on guard ourselves, when we see wolfishness in a man, regardless of the kind of suit he is wearing, of finest wool or not. As the Lord said, we must be alert: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt 10:16). And God can find, if they exist, little confused lambs who have been among wolves for so long they have forgotten who they are – and whose they are. They need our prayers.

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