Cardinal Josef Ratzinger once defined holiness in this way:
To be holy does not mean being superior to others;
the saint can be very weak,
with many mistakes in their life.
Holiness is this profound contact with God,
becoming a friend of God;
it is letting the Other work,
the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy.
Holiness is goodness and happiness, flowing from God’s heart and hands, because holiness is wholeness. When he looked upon what he had created, he could only exclaim: “It is all so very good”, with ‘complete’, ‘whole’, ‘superb’, ‘excellent’, ‘the best’ included in his “very good”. Being the best according to who and what one is. Therefore holiness is the moment when we don’t need healing anymore, because we are whole: whole in body, soul and spirit.
Wholeness in body – when our body functions according to how God created it and want it to be. Wholeness is having what we need to live up to our full potentialities and possibilities. Wholeness in body is when we are happy as we are, looking into the mirror and saying thank you to God for what we see, fully accepting who we are.
Wholeness in soul is when we are in deep contact with God. When God is our best friend and he considers you his daughter, and me his son. When he looks upon us and can say: In you I am well-pleased.
Wholeness in spirit is when all in us and about us is in synch, is integrated, is happy and good. Integration of body, soul and spirit with God and all around us.
Sin, on the other hand, is the rejection of God, the wilful rejection of the one in whom we are fully ourselves, and therefore holy. When we realise that we need God to become whole again, we can ask for reconciliation.
Now, besides my own personal sin, there is the sin I have wilfully committed. There is also humanity’s sin. Sin that belongs to humanity as a whole. It is what we call ‘corporate sin’. Its effect overflows onto each and every one of us. And there is corporate suffering because of corporate sin. The whole of humanity is all responsible for the rejection of God, just as all of humanity suffers physical, societal, psychological strains and weaknesses because of its own mistakes. So also spiritually: those who suffer physical, psychological and emotional pain, communitarian exclusion or evaluation. It is not always their own personal sin that is causing them so much suffering. We need to feel that we are journeying towards that goal, that perfect state, towards holiness.
Forgiveness is also part of our spiritual and emotional holiness. When we forgive others, we become one with God again. Forgiveness makes us one with others as well, which brings about reconciliation with oneself.
Holiness is when I say to God in my heart: I want what you have for me; I want what you want for me; I want what your mind and heart want for me; I want that your will be done in me.
Holiness and wholeness thus bring about inner freedom in God, being created in his image and likeness.
Holiness is all this and more. Holiness is God feeling comfy within us. Holiness is Jesus living in us: no more I who live, but Jesus who lives in me. Holiness is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, literally feeling at home within us because we are his home, his Temple.
By Fr Paul Sciberras