October as the month of the Rosary and November as the month of All Saints and All Souls’ Day present us with the call to holiness. The Rosary is a school of prayer: and without prayer there is no holiness. According to Saint John Paul II, contemplating the mysteries of Christ in the Holy Rosary is a true “training in holiness.” And as Saint Bonaventure said, “Never have I read of a saint who did not have a particular devotion to Mary!” With Mary, millions of holy souls in heaven accompany us on our path of life, and we celebrate their feast day on 1st November. They all desire one thing, and one thing only, for us – that one day we too may be holy, that one day we may be united with them in heaven.
And then there are all the Holy Souls, whom we especially remember on 2nd November; the faithful departed, who must still pass “as through fire” in order to attain holiness. They need our prayers and our firm resolve to strive for holiness, so that they in turn can help us when they reach heaven. The French Catholic writer Léon Bloy once said, “There is only one truly tragic thing in the world: not to be holy." And holy Mother Teresa of Calcutta once responded to a journalist: “Holiness is not a luxury for the few, but a simple duty for every one of us.”
Marking the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes, “A saint is a person who is open to God and permeated by God. The holy person is the one who directs us away from ourselves and enables us to see and recognise God.” God comes to us in his Son, and so we can say, Jesus is our holiness! To be holy means to let God dwell in us as Mary did, to believe in Jesus, adore him, love him, trust in him. It means to let Jesus live, reign, work and love in me. We can learn holiness from the Virgin of Nazareth, who in every situation repeated: “Fiat voluntas Tua” (“Thy will be done”). Fulfilling the Father’s will in all things, whether great or small, is the secret of sanctity. That is why Saint Maximilian Kolbe always taught his brothers this simple formula for holiness: “lowercase w = uppercase W.” Or in other words, our will must always be conformed to the Will of God. This was something Saint Faustina also experienced one day as she was walking along reciting the Rosary, and came to a cemetery. She prayed there a while for the departed souls, then she asked them inwardly, “You are happy, aren’t you?” Whereupon she heard inwardly, “We are happy to the extent that we have done God’s will.”
Dear friends, let us use the time and the grace that God gives us during the months of October and November to “straighten out” our lives: as Saint Josemaría Escrivá puts it, every day we “straighten out” just a little bit more. “This is a never ending task, if we truly wish to be holy.” All heaven is helping us in this, and above all our heavenly Mother, the holiest of all God’s creatures.
My grateful blessing on you all,
Father Martin Maria Barta Ecclesiastical Assistant.
Featured Image: Fr Martin Barta. Photographer: Bruno Barata.
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