Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friday: Embarrassment of Holiness??

During a recent conversation two people were talking about others not present at the table. It was a most unusual conversation. All that was shared was the goodness that filled the lives of people they were discussing. Again it was a most unusual conversation. I tried to imagine the reaction of those not present had they been present to hear the praise and admiration being heaped upon them.

How enjoyable is it to hear someone praise work that you may have recently done? It would be satisfying at the least. What further satisfaction there would be within your heart if someone comments privately to you that your efforts for a recent project made all the difference in the world. Likewise, how good you would feel if someone told you, a single parent, that your teen-aged children were genuine models to younger children. There could be similar examples of your successes.

Most people, it seems, find adulation and even genuine thanksgiving difficult to accept. There seems to be a true embarrassment, perhaps true humility, in such moments but down deep there is a good feeling. Read through the Psalms and you will find God praising good works.

But how often does being told you have a genuine holiness in your character happen? How often do we speak about others and their holiness? These circumstances seem to be a challenge to most people. Why?

Holiness is a personal status. When is the last time you asked yourself, "Am I holy? Am I striving to be a holy man, a holy woman"? An openness to holiness in life might be a help to others. How many fathers take the time to share with a teen-aged sons their own personal struggles with growing in holiness? I would imagine these young people would think their dads had lost it if they heard them say something like, "You know criticizing you comes easily at times. But I want you to know this about your dad. Each day I struggle with being holy. Each day I have to bring a close to another 24 hours asking myself how good I have been to your mom, to you and your siblings and to the boss in my office. That kind of "examination" each evening as I sit in 'my chair' is a test to see if I am being holy ... as I promised when your mother and I were married. Let me tell you what I imagine my journey to holiness is. Junior might likely want to run away. Today's readings from the liturgy reflect models of holiness.