Holiness is a mystery. It will always elude us. The moment we think we have it made, we'd better start from scratch; the moment we want to walk tall, we'd best get down on our knees, and the minute we think we're without sin , we've just committed the biggest one!
- Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Indeed, although we may progress on the path to holiness, we will never arrive there during our earthly lives. And sometimes we don't make much headway because we follow little side paths, thinking that they're going to lead us to sanctity.
We may think we're spiritual when our actions make us feel good, but we were clearly warned by Jesus that we are to carry a cross, and that we may well face persecutions. So we can't gauge holiness by the way it makes us feel.
And we're not necessarily holy because we sound good to others. We need look no further than a few prominent televangelists whose fall from grace made the headlines.
It is even possible to do good without being holy. The Pharisees obeyed the law, and yet Jesus told them, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." (Matthew 23:27)
So what are we to do if it is possible to feel good, sound good, and do good without being holy?
We're to entrust our holiness to Jesus and allow him to work within us despite our weaknesses.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Then, we can make progress on the path to holiness.