Thursday, April 1, 2010

What does holiness look like?

What is holiness? There are so many examples of holiness in our midst and they often look different from one another. ABC's 20/20 is doing a show on miracles attributed to the intercession of JP II. There is the life of Mother Teresa whose story many people are familar. What about Sr. Dorothy Stang?

Sr. Dorothy was a missionary to Brazil. As she ministered to the poor farmers in the rain forest she found that their land rights were ignored and their land taken from them by rich farmers and ranchers. These rich farmers and ranchers also clear the rain forest for their mega farms and ranches and the wood is sold. There are huge tracts of land now without living vegetation. Sr. Dorothy in her solidarity with the poor farmers whose land was being taken without legal repercussions, spoke up for their rights. To make a long story short, a price was put on her head and she was killed. Today in Brazil Sr. Leonora Brunetto finds herself in a similar situation. She has received death threats as the people in the area have also. Since 1988 1,200 activists, small farmers, judges, priests and others have been killed because of their efforts to preserve the rain forest.

So where does the holiness fit in? If you google Leonora Brunetto you can find the main article about her. In it she says, "I cannot lie and say I'm not scared. But at the same time I know God is with us."

In different times we hold up different models as examples of holiness. In our present time, we find holiness in people such as JPII, Mother Teresa and Sr. Dorothy Stang. They are people so grounded in prayer and their relationship with Christ that action must flow from them. They were each able to stand up strong about the rights and dignity of all people despite the opposition all around them.

St. Louise de Marillac, co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, died in 1660--this is the 350th anniversary of her death. Yet, she wasn't canonized until 1934. I believe it is because she is a saint for this present time. She was a great leader and changed the face of social work forever--all this because Christ was the center of her life.

Through this season of Lent and into Easter, have we grown in holiness? Have we centered are life more on Christ? Do we reach out more to those in need as Christ did? Especially those considered outcasts of mainstream society? If not, the blessing is we still have today, tomorrow and the next days to work on it!

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