help friend - smallWritten by: Patrick Sullivan

When I was many years younger I became interested in apologetics. I would sit up for hours and explore some of the more interesting debates among Christians. I would listen to audio recordings and memorize some Scripture passages. And I, like many in the Catholic world, had my favourite writers and speakers that I would turn to when I had any theological doubts.

And while I was actively seeking much information I have to admit that I was not spending nearly enough time seeking out wisdom. For that, God would have to intervene in the most gentle of ways.

Back on a visit from his studies in Europe, my good friend (now Fr. Matthew) and I were taking in life and our respective encounter with it. In due time our conversation slowly turned, as it usually did, to the topic of theology and the interesting questions that our Faith raises. I was quick to share all of what I was learning and who I was learning it from, and I piled at his feet the knowledge that I had collected since our last meeting. His response surprised me. He was not excited or argumentative, and it certainly was not for lack of interest. All he asked me was, ‘and what about your holiness?’

Fr. Matthew’s point is one that has come in and out of focus in my life since then. The spiritual life cannot just be information only, or action only, or even prayer only. Holiness, which flows from an integrated life centered on God, is the one non-negotiable that will bring others to Jesus, and ourselves to the heavenly gates. The fight for holiness is what will change the good preacher into someone who changes lives. The fight for holiness is what changes one ordinary family into a city on a hill. And the fight for holiness is what can turn a dying parish with empty seats into a blooming garden that the Lord protects and nourishes.

Way back then Matthew somehow knew what his vocation to the priesthood would teach him time and time again: there is no substituting the desire to become a saint. For Catholics, Lent is the perfect time to renew our efforts and strengthen our resolve. So today, in our vocations, ministries and apostolates, let’s put holiness first.


If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.

Check out Patrick and his ministry – evango – at



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