PERSEVERE TOWARD HOLINESS
It is an essential part of the Catholic faith, this season of Lent and all of its ceremonies, especially that of receiving ashes which becomes an outward sign to the world of one’s Catholic character. This Catholic character can be seen in those who have worldly or secular positions in society but yet are not afraid to exhibit their Catholic character i.e.
Thomas More while he was Chancellor of the English realm. Thomas More was loyal to his sovereign the King, nevertheless openly put God first on all occasions his sterling character was challenged: for example, his conscientious fulfillment of all the duties of his state of life, no matter how large or how small and insignificant.
The Christian character consists in: 1. Fidelity to one’s duty– giving all one’s due, be it to God, our fellow man, or ourselves. 2,. Freedom from human respect– readiness to practice one’s religion openly (wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday etc.) 3. Love of poor or self-denying almsgiving and 4. Good Habits. Clearly, these are the marks of a solid Christian character. It is amazing how much Christian character is dependent upon good habits. This means good habits vigorously adhered to: such as morning and evening prayers, the liturgy of the Hours, the regular attendance at the Sacraments; attendance at Mass and the Most Holy Eucharist. .....and even ashes, one of
the devout usages of which, give grace just as all the sacramentals do. Here, especially, we can refer to a more devout usage of holy water during Lent, which removes all venial sin.
A person without holy habits is like a ship without sails and without a rudder: one moves along some how, but there is a huge concern if it can reach its intended destination. There is something in a habit that is so sanctifying because it is also strengthening. A very small thing persevered in during Lent, such as daily Mass and Communion during this holiest of seasons, has more valuable results than a much greater thing done intermittently. For example, suppose during Lent we propose to read everyday a chapter of the Imitation of Christ, or practice some trifling mortification at meals, or to perform some little devotion , most especially in honor of the Sacred Passion: it will do us more good to persevere in these small resolutions than if we were once or twice to fast on bread and water when the notion fancied to come upon us. This practice of doing the same things, however slight in our faith, builds virtue and Catholic character.
Good habits build virtue, and require effort to form; bad habits are very easily formed, because they go with the secular main stream. All bad habits are indulgences of some part of our unrestrained nature, idle habits, for
instance, spring from the sloth of our nature, which hates trouble and cannot bring itself to face difficulties with a strong will. For the most part good habits require resistance. St. Ignatius calls them "inordinatio" and he says want of restraint is one of the roots of all sin.
Let us therefore carry our crosses faithfully during this Lenten season, so we can reap the fruit of a productive faith. The priest reminding us of this at every Mass, makes the sign of the cross over the altar and gifts some fifty times or more. We live in a world that wants a Christ without a Cross, a Mass without sacrifice, and a religion without a savior.