What does it mean to be called to be holy?

June 12, 2012

HOUSTON — In the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church declared that everyone is called to holiness. 
Every person. No exceptions.

The Second Vatican Council recognized that every woman and man, whatever their path in life, is called to mirror Christ through their attitude of loving service toward God and one another, in every aspect of their living and working. “One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives,” warned the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. 

Four decades after Vatican II, generations still continue to wrestle with what it means to practice holiness in their everyday conduct at home, work, among family and within the Church.

Archdiocesan faithful can chew on the question at the 2012 Prayer Breakfast, which will feature a keynote address on “The Universal Call to Holiness” by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. The July 16 event will be held at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston. 

In anticipation of the Archdiocesan-wide morning of faith and fellowship, the Texas Catholic Herald reached out to a handful of people across the Archdiocese for their answers to the question, “What does it mean to be called to holiness?”

Read on for their reflections ... and consider pondering your own call to holiness today.

What does it mean to be called to holiness?

“Being called to holiness is God’s continuous invitation to be the person He created each one of us to be. You, me, the guy one traffic lane over with the gauge piercings and body art — everyone was created for a purpose; we all have a divine mission. Sometimes our answer to God is, ‘No thank you’ — and we miss the great adventure God has in store for us. Sometimes our answer is a resounding and enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ but the demands of love prove too difficult to follow through. Sometimes, our ‘yes’ means, ‘Yes Lord, whatever it takes,’ and we begin the journey, one day at a time! The degree to which you and I embrace the call to holiness is the degree to which we may one day experience what it’s like to be the people God created us to be.” 
— Teresita Johnson, Associate Director, Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry

“This means that each of God’s children is called to imitate Him in our daily lives. He is the perfect model of holiness. In this way we can come into closer relationship with Him ... So how can I hear Him? By listening for His Will by stepping outside of my hectic life to contemplate quietly and to hear His whisper, His answer, His direction, to know His love for me. This gives me the grace to overcome self so that I can do His will rather than my own.” 
— Rita Gonzales, Chair, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council 

“I believe that we are called to share our talents and gifts with others and to live a more God-centered life. I struggled with my ability to do this in my previous career. Though prayer is an important part of this, it is how we live our life that is key to this calling for me. How we treat others, care for others, share our talents and treasures, what we idolize and spend our time on; it is in the action, not in the words. I like the question, ‘What would Jesus do in this situation?’” 
— Ann Schorno, Executive Director, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

2012 Prayer Breakfast

WHAT: Third annual Archdiocesan Prayer Breakfast

WHEN: July 16, 2012 from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

WHERE: Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar

TO REGISTER: Visit www.archgh.org/prayerbreakfastor call 713-652-4461
“All people are called to do something in life with the talents and gifts that have been given to them by God. These gifts and talents are not the same for everyone. Some people answer this call to holiness by becoming a teacher, doctor, lawyer, musician, mother, father, priest, or any other role in society. We must be willing to open our hearts and minds to listen carefully for God’s calling in our lives. It is then our responsibility to live out this calling in a positive, ethical and moral way; placing the needs of others before ourselves. We must remember that serving God through the small and ordinary (doesn’t always have to be big) things in life are also important ... greeting people with a smile, opening a door, offering our help, remembering birthdays, along with everything else we do each day. These small gestures are something we can all accomplish in our call to be holy. Paul challenges us in Phillippians to do nothing out of selfishness but instead, to humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, and look out for the interest of others first.” 
— Eric Larsen, Intern, Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston

“God is our creator and when we are born, we are called to God’s holiness through baptism. The saints have taught us that through charity and charitable acts we discover the true meaning of holiness. God’s never ending love is charity. By taking care of each other, we are loving one another. Love is the fundamental basis for the universal call to holiness. That’s what we do in our ministry. We continue and enhance the formation of the young people that we serve by helping them to form their consciences and find their calling to God’s holiness.” 
— Franchelle Lee, Director, Archdiocesan Special Youth Services

“Growing up in the ’70s, even with attending Catholic Schools, I did not learn much about the saints. And when we talked about the saints, they seemed so remote. They lived hundreds, even 1,000, 2,000 years ago. I never imagined that I could ever come close to being a saint. After all, I was never going to be become a pope, or fed to a lion. So I was shocked the first time that I can remember someone saying that we are all called to be saints. The lives of the saints were so remote and foreign, there was no way that I could be like them ... But now I have started studying the lives of saints canonized by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI — saints who lived in the last couple of centuries. I realized that the saints truly are ordinary people like me, who did ordinary things extraordinarily. Currently, my favorite saint is Saint Andre Bessete, who lived at the beginning of the 20th Century. He was a ‘just’ a doorman! But he did that simple task with such love and devotion for God and his fellow man, that he is clearly a saint. That is what we are all called to do. To do the ordinary things in our ordinary lives — extraordinarily — with complete love and devotion for God and our fellow man. Saints simply follow the one commandment that Jesus gave us: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ It’s simple, but not easy. In our self-absorbed, immediate gratification society,it is difficult to truly love the other person — to truly put their wellbeing ahead of our own. But that is what God calls all of us to do. That is ultimate path to true happiness. We are all called to holiness.” 
— Father Patrick Garrett, Administrator, Sts. Simon and Jude