Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Holiness for Everyone by Eric Sammons

Friendship has a powerful impact on people's behavior. Parents often worry that their children will succumb to "peer pressure," implicitly acknowledging the power that friends can have on someone's life. Children aren't the only ones influenced in this way -- adults, too, allow their personalities and choices to be shaped by the company they keep. Communal-ness is part of human nature. We want to be accepted by others. We don't want to seem odd. Natural as this is, it, too, often leads people away from the Faith and into the culture of death in which we live. But friendship's power can work both ways: The Christian who remains faithful to his beliefs and stands up for Christ in this life can have a great influence over those closest to him, even without saying a word.
Very true. For example, I often ask myself "What would Mike Aquilina do?" Never have I been around a nicer guy who consistently sets me on the path of right behavior ... never through a word of criticism but always through his own behavior and words.

I am not a member of Opus Dei, the spiritual movement founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.. Never been much of a joiner really. However, I am well versed in the fundamental way that St. Josemaria Escriva thinks about holiness and every day life thanks to the In Conversation with God series, which I have used for over a decade. Written by a priest from Navarre University, which Escriva helped found, it reflects a lot of Escriva's spirituality which I like. The beauty of the ordinary, the everyday, offered to God is a very practical way to live, as Holiness for Everyone's subtitle reminds us.

Sammons gives a quick look at St. Josemaria Escriva's life and works. He then sets the foundations of what it means to have God as our father and what true love, freedom and holiness really mean. Finally, he comes to how to live a saintly life in our everyday, ordinary lives. Whether at work, at home, with family, with friends, or just driving to the store, the methods to becoming holy are all around us.
Mortifications are all those activities which help us to control our sinful impulses and desires. They can be as simple as denying ourselves a second helping at dinner, allowing others to speak first in conversations, or choosing the longer line at the checkout counter.
This is all interwoven with another theme dear to my heart, that we are all meant to be saints. Becoming a saint sounds like a lofty and unattainable goal because we have only seen the saints after they achieved their goals. Through stories, examples from his own life, and many other sources, Sammons gives us the tools to understand how we too can be saints-in-training right here on earth.

For example, I was struggling with grudgingly doing something I knew God wanted of me. (This is a continual struggle on this particular topic, by the way ... something of a thorn in my side which I must continually strive to overcome.)
A son or daughter of a king is uniquely privileged -- but bears a demanding load of responsibility as a result of his or her lineage. Just so, as children of God, we are called to act in accord with our nobility. Humble submission to the will of our Father will mark us as true children.
It was a real help in my struggle to suddenly see myself as a grown, royal princess, standing to the side of her father the king, awaiting his bidding. This is an image I call up time and again. It helps.

Even if you have no interest whatsoever in St. Josemaria Escriva, you will find something of value in this book. Few of us can pursue holiness aside from the demands of work, family, and friends. Holiness for Everyone gives help and the proper perspective to journey to heaven, together. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I'm only nice to you, Julie. I'm sure my children are wondering what you're talking about.