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Apostolic Movement

Holiness through smartphones, diapers, and other everyday things

By: Hubertus Brantzen

We all know what a day’s work with all its joys and complications means, while the word “holiness,” is probably foreign to most people in 2023. However, the word is used in many contexts. For example, a co-worker sees it as “sacred” to perform an important task. A daughter considers a painting she inherited from her father “sacred” and gives it a place of honor in the living room. And when someone wants to underline the seriousness of his statement, he says: ” For everything that is sacred to me…”. It always involves something important or especially valuable, to be taken very seriously, where honor often comes into play.

Traveling through certain regions or countries, one gets the impression that those who live there are deeply rooted in the faith and familiar with that which is sacred. In France, for example, many towns and villages are named after saints. However, we know that French society is very secularized; the pious names of places bear witness to a Christian past rather than to a present marked by faith.

The vocation for holiness

Whatever the social environment, faithful Christians are exhorted by the Apostle Paul: “Whatever you do in word and deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This is a summary of what Paul writes in his instructions to all the baptized. We should shed all the characteristics of the “old man”: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, lying and impure words. Instead, we must be clothed with a “new man,” as with a new garment. And this new garment is above all “love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:5 ff.).

The Second Vatican Council confirmed from these and similar statements of the Bible “the vocation of all Christians for holiness” (Lumen gentium 32 and 39 ff.) This vocation goes back to a long tradition of Christian spirituality, referring to the fact that it is possible to lead a life marked by living faith, that is, a holy life.

Some people thought that it was too difficult to follow God’s call in this world and so they withdrew from the world into solitude. Others thought that only in a celibate life as nuns or monks could a “state of perfection” be attained. A much narrower imprint on the history of spirituality, at least in theory, was seen in the desire to translate Paul’s words literally into actual life: to do everything in the name of Jesus, living in the world, in marriage and family, at work, in ordinary daily life as experienced by “normal” people.

Sanctity of everyday life

Father Joseph Kentenich formulated the goal of Christian life and education as follows: We want to form a “new man in a new community” – through the sanctity of the working day. We are not to seek the extraordinary, but the ordinary – what is done day by day in ordinary life – which we are called to do extraordinarily well.

In 1937, Annette Nailis summarized Father Kentenich’s talks on this goal in the book “Sanctity of Everyday Life.” She saw herself as following in the tradition of St. Francis de Sales, who did not want holiness to be understood as something for pious moments or special situations in life, but as a way to God for everyone, every day, in every situation of life. Francis de Sales’ work “Philothea. Introduction to a Pious Life”, published in 1609, is a classic of Christian spirituality and can be understood as a precursor of “Sanctity of Everyday Life”.

What might this mean for Christians in 2023?



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