1. In a radio message which he broadcast on the occasion of the Beatification of Pope Innocent XI, the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XII, defined holiness as “the intimate awareness of loyal subjection to God, Who is adored and loved as the beginning, end, and norm of every thought, affection, word, and action.”
Let us meditate on this definition, which helps to shed some light on the true nature of sanctity. A holy man must always have a keen awareness of his own dependence upon God, his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, and his hoped for reward and happiness in the next life. This awareness must be vivid, for it should not be possible for it to be obscured by worldly distractions or obliterated by sensual allurements. It should be active, so that it may not be a merely theoretical acknowledgment of our dependence which leads to nothing more than lip-worship; on the contrary, it must be capable of transforming our lives into an act of obedience and of love. Finally, it should be a faithful awareness, a complete and voluntary subjection to God which is the driving force behind all our words and actions, and which inspires us alike in joy and in sorrow, in victory and in defeat. If we wish to be perfect Christians, we must cultivate this kind of consciousness of our dependence upon God.
2. It is not true to say that holiness can be attained only by a few select souls, so that ordinary goodness is sufficient for people like ourselves who have so many other things to think about and to do. Such an attitude leads to tepidity, from which it is a short and easy step to sin itself. Anyway, there is no such thing as mediocre virtue, for if virtue is not aiming at perfection it is not genuine. A sincere Christian cannot be satisfied with mediocrity, for he is obliged to be holy, or at least to fight hard with the help of God's grace to become holy.
Even in the Old Testament we read: “I, the Lord, am your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44; 19:2) This exhortation is repeated by St. Peter in his first Epistle, (1 Peter 1:15-16) and in the Gospel Jesus Himself commands us to be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:48) Holiness, then, is a goal towards which all sincere Christians must strive.
3. We need Saints to recall our wayward and corrupt society to the paths of truth, justice and charity. We should pray to God to send us Saints who will reform the world by living the Gospel and making it live for others. Above all, we should endeavour to become holy ourselves. To achieve this we do not have to put on sack-cloth, go into the desert, or shut ourselves up in a monastery. Each of us can become a saint in his own home and in whatever position God has allotted him. All we have to do is obey God's Will in everything, love Him above everything, love our neighbour as ourselves, avoid sin and aim at what is good. We can and should do all this with the help of God.