WE need to understand this truth well. For a long while in the history of the Church and of the world in general, the usual idea about holiness, and all the gamut of implications it contains, is that sanctity is reserved only for a few and that it can only be achieved through certain acts and states of life.
Yes, sanctity has often been associated with priests and nuns and others who by some peculiar circumstances prefer to lead a religious or consecrated life practically spent in churches or some isolated or special places like caves, deserts, mountains, convents, monasteries, hermitages, mission areas, foreign lands, etc.
As a consequence, the ordinary people who stay at home and work in the fields or schools and offices, or those who simply find themselves in the middle of the world, are often considered out of contention for sainthood. At best, they can aspire only to be helpers and assistants to priests and religious men and women.
We need to correct this attitude because it is not quite correct. While such conception about sanctity contains a lot of truth and many good things, it however does not capture many other elements through which holiness can be worked out and achieved.
Everyone is called to holiness, because everyone is a creature of God, and as such is therefore created in the image and likeness of God, adopted a child of his, and meant to participate in the very life of God.
There is a basic and inalienable equality among all of us insofar as we are God’s creatures and children called to holiness. Regardless of our position and state in life, whether we are priests, religious men and women, or ordinary lay faithful, we have the same calling and purpose in life.
Corollary to this truth is that there is also a basic and inalienable quality of everything in the world to be an occasion and means for our sanctification. To be holy does not mean that we only spend time praying, going to church, availing of the sacraments, etc.
To be sure, prayer, the sacraments, the doctrine of our faith, obedience to the Church hierarchy are important, even indispensable, but these would hang on thin air if they are not supported and made as the goal and expression of a sanctified life that is consistent to the teachings and the spirit of God.
To be holy also means that we have to use our ordinary work, all the things of the world, like the sciences, arts, politics, technologies, etc., properly purified, and all the other circumstances that define our daily life as an occasion and means to look for God, then find, love and serve him.
There’s a need to cultivate a unity of life that is inspired by love of God and neighbor and oriented toward the definitive eternal life with God in heaven. We cannot divide our life in two disparate parts—one meant for holiness, and another meant only for some worldly affairs.
We only have one life that is both human and meant to be supernatural with God. We just have to learn how to blend the different aspects of our life without erasing the legitimate distinctions among them.
What is material and natural should remain material and natural. But we need to know how to infuse them with the spiritual and the supernatural proper of us as God’s creatures made in his image and likeness and meant to share in his divine life.
We can do this spiritualizing and supernaturalizing of what is material and natural in us by simply sanctifying the latter, that is, offering them to God since they all come from God and also belong to him. Because of that, we do them as best as we can at any given moment, even if our best can always be made better later on.
A work sanctified in this way always sanctifies us and the world itself as well. Obviously, to sanctify our work by offering it to God and by doing it very well involves uniting our work with the supreme sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
We just cannot sanctify our work by having the best intentions and doing it well. That work has to be made an integral part of the supreme offering of our Redeemer, Christ himself. Otherwise, that work would not be truly sanctified.
That is why, we need to unite our work with the doctrine of our faith, with the sacraments, and with our active participation in the life of the Church.