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Spiritual Conference - by Fr. Paul Decock,OMI

Presented to the first and second year scholastics on 25th October 2004

Striving for Holiness

Striving for holiness St Eugene stressed time and time again that we should strive for holiness. We should avoid mediocrity, cynicism, mindless self-indulgence etc. this striving comes from the Holy Spirit which moves us to grow. Eph 3: 14-21

What we need to emphasize is a healthy idealism. Trusting in ourselves as God's work. We have gifts, strengths, positive experiences, but at the same time we have to be aware of our limitations, weaknesses, negative experiences and wounds.

We have to therefore be committed to our own growth, not to be lazy to get to know ourselves. It may be possible that we could be ashamed of ourselves but we should remember that a plant is never perfect from the beginning, it has to grow and go through stages, so too is it with a person.

By getting to know ourselves we must come to love ourselves. True growth is when we get to know and love our true selves. We often have a tendency not to trust our true self. We are afraid to get to know ourself because we might be disappointed. we can some times wish to be like other people or to compare ourselves to others and become jealous or envious. Most of this, if not all, lead to feelings of inferiority.

It is also possible to inflate one image. We can form the perfect picture.

These tendencies have to be identified and get rid of them so that we can be free from them. This involves courage; Courage to look at ourselves for who we really are. We have to begin by accepting who we are, this is true love, true respect for oneself. Acceptance means both the good and not so good.

Beside commitment, determination, courage and openness we can also get to know ourselves through reflection, prayer and taking time to read.

We have to be willing to be challenged about our way of life and our habits. This can be done through one's own conscience or even by others, both friend and foe. We should become more aware of our own manifestations of selfishness in our personal relationships, with regard to our responsibilities, and in our small or large communities. We should observe things such as laziness, lack of commitment, lack of energy etc.

We should also become aware of the tensions in our life and reflect on them. Tensions between our good intentions and our failure to realize them (Romans 7). The challenges of relationships: affection, possessiveness, hostility, hurt, feeling unappreciated. How do we manage our desire: for intimacy; pleasure: sleep, food, alcohol, sexual; showing off etc?

We should also become aware of our feeling and learn to manage them. Feelings of frustration, disappointment, anger, resentment, shame, inadequacy etc.

Awareness of one's personal history also helps. We should become aware of the negative childhood experiences, our relationship with our parents, things we were told were good and things that were bad, ways in which we were encouraged to behave and how we coped with the situation.


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