How To Be Holy – Chapters 1 to 6 by Peter Kreeft 4


I appreciate the lighthearted and often humorous approach Kreeft has on this topic. Not that one’s eternal salvation is anything to take lightly, but this is an exciting journey, one that leads to eternal bliss and happiness. So, it seems appropriate that we should view the process (life), not as a chore or something we have to struggle through, but a precious gift to be relished, embraced and enjoyed. Kreeft quotes Léon Bloy, who says, ““Life, in the end, has only one tragedy: not to have been a saint.” Amen! For many years, I was comfortable just trying to be a good person. Being a saint…why aim at that improbability! Aim for purgatory, a more realistic target! However, when you set your sights on anything less than being a saint, your journey will be a “chore” and challenges will be seen as obstacles. Sure, I’m likely making a short stop before the pearly gates, but striving to be a saint allows you to live life to the fullest, open to the depths of God’s, grace, self-communication, love and to be the person God created you to be.

To become a saint one needs to take to heart the words of the Our Father, “thy will be done.” Kreeft says that the main obstacle to holiness is selfishness. It is the desire that “my will be done.” We are too often quick to take the pleasure or satisfaction at hand, that is tangible and that we can experience immediately…the fruit of the tree. Kreeft encourages us to allow God to be our guru…our guide. Open to God’s guidance you will come to see that…”every single thing that happens in your life is directly and deliberately designed by God for one end: your own personal, individual, unique good, to perfect your unique self, to bring you to maximum joy” (Ch. 6). Our true happiness comes by embracing God’s will.

In these chapters, Kreeft also addresses the age-old question concerning the existence of evil and suffering if God is all good and all loving. He offers very insightful explanations that we’ll look at in the discussion questions below.

I hope you found the opening chapters of this book to be engaging and motivating. Let’s all set our sights and hearts on being a saint, not someday, but today!

Deacon Ralph 

Going Further

Kreeft calls this book a “festooning” of Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s work, Abandonment to Divine Providence. I love that little book and have read it several times. If you have not read this, do yourself a favor and put it on your short list. You can find this book on Formed.org HERE.

Questions

  1. Kreeft states of himself in Chapter One, “I am myself a totally convinced, ‘eat-everything-Mommy-puts-on-your-plate’ Catholic Christian.” Does that describe you?
    1. If so, don’t we often want others, especially our family, to be in this category with us? How challenging is it when those close to us do not live up to our expectations?
    2. If not, what parts of the Catholic Faith do you struggle with?
  1. In Chapter Three, Kreeft says that the existence of evil is the strongest argument for atheism as they would point to the contradiction of a good and loving God allowing evil. Many people struggle with the existence of evil in the world. Does Kreeft’s explanation satisfy that question or do you still have a difficult time justifying evil? In your own words how would you explain why evil exists?
  2. Kreeft speaks in Chapter Six about Jesus’ petition at Gethsemane “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” Kreeft says, some things are not possible even for an omnipotent God. Kreeft says, “So it if were possible for God to make us holy and wise by giving us an easier lesson, better gifts, more graces, He certainly would do just that. So if He does not give us the easy way that we would prefer, then it is impossible.” How does this understanding affect how you view God’s presence in your life?
  3. What new insights have you gained from these first few chapters?

Please feel free to comment on these questions or any other thoughts you’d like to share on these chapters!


Share your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “How To Be Holy – Chapters 1 to 6

  • Mary French

    A couple of thoughts from my kitchen table this snowy morning: This book was the inspiration (in part) behind the workshop that I currently present at Saint Paul of the Cross Monastery Retreat Center so I was very happy to see it get enough votes to make the reading ‘to-do’ list for this group! I am definitely an ‘eat everything’ Catholic, but I know there was a time in my life when my reasoning wasn’t sound and my education in the Faith was sorely lacking. It was only as I diligently studied and grew to understand the absolute beauty of our Faith and how perfectly all of the pieces fit together that I could begin to make progress (and I still feel like I am ‘beginning’). And yes, I wish that everyone that I love was right here along for the ride with me. The fact that they aren’t gives me a great sense of grief. One of the hardest lessons that we have to learn is this: we are human and imperfect and we alone are responsible for our holiness (or lack thereof). Our quest to be Holy will most likely be a lifelong struggle – a story of ups and downs – success and failure – three steps forward and two steps back – but it is exactly that which makes us holy. We learn from our mistakes, we grow stronger through adversity, and what is best for us isn’t always going to be an easy choice. Our humanity (free will) tends to complicate things for us when our conscience isn’t properly formed but the good news is that the old cliche “practice makes perfect” absolutely applies here – as does the one that goes “nothing worth having is ever easy” (or something like that). How clever of God to help us in this ‘best’ way to perfection – by making things such a challenge for us!




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  • Lori

    First of all, I love Peter Kreeft’s style of writing. He takes deep and complicated ideas and brings them to a level I can understand, and even makes it entertaining.
    Secondly, one of my favorite verses from the Bible is Romans 8:28. I think of it often and truly believe that “all things work together for good for those who love God”. When I get discouraged with what appears to be unanswered prayers, this verse gives me hope and peace. I know in my heart it is true.




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  • Debbie Kerch

    I wanted to comment on three things. 1. I am an eat all the food on your plate type of Catholic. However, that doesn’t mean I have been perfect or have never fallen. I am lucky that my children still practise their faith and have passed it on to their children, but my fear is that my grandchildren are growing up in a secular, relative world and the influence that might have on them over time.
    2. Evil exists because of the fall of man, since Adam and Eve and when Cain first raised his hand against his brother. God has given us free will and he will not stand in our way of using it. We can use it for good or evil. Unfortunately, we often use it for evil. God does exist and so does Satan.
    3. What stood out to me from everything I’ve read is being lukewarm. God will vomit us out of his mouth. That’s pretty powerful and scary if I may say so. We can not sit on our hands in regards to our faith. We must continue to be hungry, search and grow. We cannot afford to be stagnant in a world that wants us to be self absorbed. We really have our work cut out for us, but with grace and love and God’s help we can accomplish anything.




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    • Deacon Ralph Post author

      There are some folks who want to relegate Satan to a symbol of evil! I attended a workshop a few years back on Exorcism given by the diocesan consultant and well-known demonologist Adam Blai. Without going into details, Satan is very real!

      I found it amusing that Kreeft would not use the word “vomit” in that part in Chapter 1, Reason 8 to read the book! Agreed that lukewarm seems to be a good state, but we are called to be on fire with our faith, blazing hot!! We definitely need God’s grace and the encouragement and support of others on this journey.




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