Dart of Holiness
A meditation on the call to holiness by Fr. Menor, SJ
“Lord, you have called me to holiness? When did you call me?”
I am going to introduce a phrase which, please God, the Heart of Jesus desires to have as the same effect as that of a seed. Did Jesus, in His Gospel, ever shoot “the dart of holiness?” Yes, He shot it at Matthew. “Come, follow me,” and Matthew followed Him to martyrdom. Did He fire it at Peter? Yes. “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,” and Peter, who fell, got up and was faithful until He was crucified for Christ. Did He fire it at John and James? The Gospel says that He called them, and how they preached Him until their death! Who will be able to reject a dart from Jesus?
Throughout history, hasn’t this Divine Archer fired many other darts? How could it be otherwise, if Isaiah tells us that Yahweh has a quiver, and if He has a quiver it isn’t to hold arrows? That is why, all, absolutely all of the Saints, have been wounded by this divine arrow which in one way or another has told them: “Be holy! I want you to be holy! I need you to be a Saint!” How could He not have fired such invisible volleys, when so many holy souls have risen up invincibly determined to reach the end, who were able to overcome all sorts of obstacles which ought to have exceeded their strength?
What is this ‘dart’? When and where does one feel the wound? Will it be a light that envelops you, as Saul was enveloped by blinding light at Damascus? Will it be a wound of love, as it was for St. Teresa of Avila? Will it be like the Trinitarian vision of St. Ignatius? Will it be...? But whether it will take the form of a light, a wound of love, a vision, or something else, it is always an interior strength that makes one rise up and continue on and on without wearying, because even if he tires and becomes faint, he will never say “enough.” He never says, “No more, I quit.” Let us not imagine extraordinary things, graces that even if they were granted to some many times, many more times they were not. Because in the face of these charismatic graces, many saints; saints such as St. John Berchmans, St. Rafaela of the Sacred Heart, St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet, would say they did not experience or hear those mystical voices, nor did they feel those interior impulses that push one towards holiness. Nonetheless, they always found themselves, from the day they decided upon this path, with a decisive and rational firmness, even if the flesh would say to them a thousand times, as the soldiers did to Christ on Calvary, “Get down from the Cross.” They said that to Him many times. We can believe that all the Saints heard it too. Yet their unbreakable will never gave in.
Love always takes the shape of prayer.
It is in prayer that love finds its best expression.
Well then, where is this dart of holiness? Where? It is in the daily prayers which are never omitted or reduced or consciously neglected in their practice, because prayer is the first law of all the Saints. Of course, in reality that law is love. But in practice love always takes the shape of prayer. It is in prayer that love finds its best expression. That prayer should be anointed with daily mortification of powers and senses, without interruption. That is where the dart of holiness is enclosed.
But, look, listen to me! In the first meditation that you have, full of humility and respect, ask Jesus: “Lord, you have called me to holiness? When did you call me?” It could be that the Lord responds to you in such a way that you say: “Yes, it is You Lord who is speaking to me.” And if He speaks to you, guard that secret in your soul and conduct yourself thereafter according to His word. However, if Jesus does not respond, I will respond for Him, and it may well be that the two of us would tell you the same thing. For the Lord would perhaps say to you,
“Look, my son (daughter), how is it that you still wonder about such things? How is it that you still ask whether I have called you to holiness? You do not need me to say it; you already have enough reasons to know that I called you, for I have called you many times. Let’s take a look. Don’t you know that through Baptism you have been incorporated into Me, Jesus, who am infinite Holiness? Can I admit a creature to this divine participation if it is not called to holiness? Didn’t you receive sanctifying grace, the grace of the Holy Spirit with all of His gifts, which are the means of transforming souls? Hence, you have been called to holiness by Me, into whom you incorporated yourself. Don’t I nourish you every day with my blessed Body and Blood? Haven’t I given you My Mother as your Mother? Didn’t I give you My heart? Do you expect more? Do you want more? Isn’t all this to ‘call’ you continually? Isn’t you vocation to Pro Ecclesia Sancta another calling for you of My love, so that to all the previous graces, you now add this one, which constantly repeats to you, ‘search intensely for holiness and perfection within your own state’…? Haven’t I spoken clearly enough, or must I send you a new message every day?
But, look, you do not need any more callings. What happens to you is that you are inconsistent. You are always in a hurry, and you do not know how to wait. Remember the psalm that says, ‘Blessed are those who trust in Him.’ And the Gospel passage, ‘Whoever perseveres until the end will be saved.’ In our case, we can substitute, ‘will be holy.’
‘Hope, hope, hope. Pray, pray, pray. Self denial, self denial, self denial.’ This is the saint’s secret. He is the one who, without any hurry, is convinced that God does not take back His Word, that God is Faithful and True, today, tomorrow, and always he advances in the spiritual life, just as another Psalm says, ‘My soul waits in silence,’ knowing that holiness will come. He, like the prudent virgin of the Gospel, is always waiting with his lamp trimmed, which is to say, with his daily and uninterrupted prayer and mortification. Thus he waits for the day when they tell him, ‘Open the door! The Bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him.’ And then, like the prudent virgin, whether young or the old, healthy or sick, with his lamp trimmed, he will hear the Bridegroom in his soul. Him who is God coming to judge him, will say to him, ‘Come, My child, enter into the joy of the Lord, because you were like the prudent virgin who kept vigil without wearying, and the crown of your holiness is at hand. Blessed are you because you have believed.’”
Just so, my brethren, believe in the Word of God; believe in the calling that is from God. He who believes and perseveres in these beliefs will be holy. Here is the secret to holiness: “In knowing how to wait, in knowing how to rise one hundred times if you fall one hundred times, or a thousand if you fall a thousand, persevere in your daily and uninterrupted prayer and mortification.” Never give up. Impress upon your soul the firm conviction that God does not play with souls, and if He has called you to holiness, He will give you what He promised.