A few years ago I felt my relationship with God was kind of “meh” so I asked a priest I knew, Father Chris, for advice.
“Are you attending mass every day?” Father Chris asked. Keep in mind, I worked at a church that offered mass twice a day. All I had to do was walk next door.
“Well,” I sighed, “sometimes. But 12:15 mass is right in the middle of the day and sometimes I forget in the middle of work.”
“Why not go to the 7:30 a.m. mass, before the workday begins?” he countered.
“Oh, Father, that’s so early!” I protested.
“Then go to bed earlier” (this guy was full of answers).
“But I get home and like to relax and watch some T.V. and stuff.”I replied.
Father Chris looked at me with what I now realize was exasperation and said, “Well, come back and talk to me when holiness is more important to you than television.”
#TheStruggle for Holiness Is Real
People wince when I tell this story, but I’m so grateful Father Chris said what he said to me. I was irritated at first (how dare Father tell me I can’t get holy watching TV?), but later that night when I flipped on the “Letterman,” his statement was ringing in my ears.
Did I want holiness more than television? If I did, I wasn’t acting like it. Sighing, I turned off the T.V. and set my alarm clock. It wasn’t easy getting up that first morning and to this day I still struggle with getting myself out the door and into the pew in time for the opening hymn. But for years I have attended mass almost every day, because my struggle for holiness is more important than television or literally anything else.
This summer lots of you attended camps and conferences and experienced God challenging you to follow him in a new way—to pursue holiness with a greater fervor. Surrounded by your friends in a place where everyone was striving for sainthood, accepting the challenge seemed easy. “I’ll do anything you ask me to!” you prayed. For a few weeks, you gave it all you had.
Then school started and your volleyball coach posted the schedule and the district tournament is the same weekend as your youth group’s fall retreat. Or you’re taking A.P. courses and you find that you have so much homework on Sunday, you forget to attend mass. Your bible study meets on the same night as your glee club, and your club is on the road to sectionals. The pressure is on.
Volleyball, A.P. classes, Glee club and whatever else you’re trying to balance– these are not bad things. But I’m going to be brutally honest with you, just like Father Chris was with me all those years ago.
You will not grow in holiness if you put Christ second to anything.
Heaven is Most Important
Harsh? Maybe. But you need to hear this because your volleyball coach, glee club president and AP teacher wants you to succeed in volleyball, sectionals and the AP exam. These are not bad things to succeed at. But heaven is more important.
This doesn’t mean that you drop out of school and sports to spend 24/7 in the church. School, athletics, extracurriculars, after-school jobs—these are all valid and not bad things to spend time on. The danger comes when you allow these activities to become your priority.
My biggest fear in attending mass every day was that I’d run out of time — that I’d end up with not enough hours in the day to exercise, clean, cook and work (I know, life as an adult is so exciting). However, as I started to plan my day around mass, I found that the rest of my day felt more ordered and I was actually accomplishing more than I thought I could.
Skipping a big tournament for a retreat, cutting back hours at an after school job to be on time for youth group or telling your coach you can’t practice on Sundays is scary.
Since the beginning, Team Catholic has been full of people who didn’t just fit their faith in where they could, but of saints who were led to the lions, to the firing squads and torturers in their attempt to follow God on the cross. Hebrews 12 reminds us that we are surrounded by these witnesses—those who persevered, keeping their “eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
So if you’re ready to get serious about your faith, be honest and ask yourself:
What comes between you and God?