How To Be Holy – Chapters 31 to the end! by Peter Kreeft 5

I was not a big fan of the second appendix, the dialogue between sensible and stupid. While it does fit Kreeft’s approach in writing this book and the content was good, it was the awkward conversation that distracted from the message.

Chapter 31, on the other hand, in one brief passage speaking about our existence, gave fresh insights for reflection. I exist. God made me. Yes, that is a fact! At this moment in my existence, my gray cells are formulating thoughts and then my fingers move and type this post. I can choose to stop. Pause. Make a cup of tea (actually enjoying some Hot Cinnamon Spice tea!).  As much as I’d like to think my existence has everything to do with me, and I have so much control over this existence, none of that happens unless God, holds me in existence. As Kreeft says, our very existence is not our own. Without God’s command for us to “BE”, we cease to be. Kreeft continues, “That is why every moment is holy: because it is filled with the presence and will and activity of God, at its very center, its very existence.” Our response – gratitude! Unending gratitude!

I want to end with one last look at a quote from Chapter 14 –“William Law says, in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, if we examine ourselves with honesty we will discover only one reason why we are not as holy as the saints: because we do not wholly want to be.” Let us all desire to be saints! One of the movies I watched on recently was about St. Philip Neri. Beautiful and uplifting. Watch it!  His catch phrase, “I prefer heaven.” It is in Italian with subtitles. The language does not detract but enhances this movie. So in the words of Saint Philip Neri, “preferisco il paradiso!” (PS – a bonus in the movie is great music by composer Marco Frisina) 

Deacon Ralph

When I first read this book, one thing that really stuck with me was chapter 33 which addressed following God’s will, even if it leads you away from virtuous action or prayer. The point being that God’s will is what is best for us at that moment. What is best for us at a particular moment may not necessarily be what we would will for ourselves! Refusing God’s will to follow our own, even if it is our will to continue prayer when being called elsewhere, works against our growth in holiness. We must remember that we are always to give our fiat – to always answer YES! It isn’t necessarily WHAT we are doing but the attitude and way that we do it that matters most! And what works for you might not be what God wants for me. We must DO with LOVE. We must carry out our duties no matter what they are, faithfully and to the best of our ability. We must resist the urge to compare ourselves with others. And we must always be grateful to God for the many blessings and opportunities given us in each moment. As we transition into Lent, recall that Kreeft tells the reader that gratitude is expressed through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These are Lenten focal points! Keep that in mind during the season – you are expressing your GRATITUDE! Maybe this time around, instead of worrying over what to ‘give up’, you can focus on gratitude and practice conforming your will to God’s will – be proactive in your quest for holiness! And remember: It’s a marathon – so keep running.


Do you struggle with following the inner promptings that come from God?
Do you think that this Lent will contribute to your personal pursuit of holiness? If so, how? If not, why not?

 Please share your thoughts on the questions above or any other comments you have after reading these chapters!

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Share your thoughts!

5 thoughts on “How To Be Holy – Chapters 31 to the end!

  • Ellen

    What I liked in this book was the reference to mother Theresa saying… Do small things with great love. I often struggle with am I doing enough… should I go volunteer here or there etc. and just doing multiple small things every day with great love helps put things in perspective for me

    • Mary French

      I am currently reading something else for Lent that touched on this topic too — the concept of “DUTY”. We all have normal, daily duties according to our state of life (our roles, jobs, families, etc.) – and emphasis is given to the concept of carrying out our duties faithfully, with love, because even this is a means to heaven! Our daily obligations can get us there if we have the proper perspective!

  • Sue Callahan

    Two things came to mind while reading this book: 1) I fell in love with the concept of the earth being our womb while we are preparing to born into the kingdom of heaven, but then I am big on symbols. Just think about all the options we have put before us while shaping ourselves in the beautiful womb; and 2) this is taking me back a few years, however in the 70’s/80’s there was team called the Talbot Brothers who wrote and sang Christian music. John Michael Talbot became a monk and still writes music today, however one of my favorite albums is called The Painter and two of the songs on this album speak to me of How To Be Holy – the first one is Empty Canvas and the second one is Paint My Life both sum it up for me. If you have the opportunity to listen to this album or either of these songs, I pray they speak to you as they have spoken to me. God Bless Sue

  • Debbie

    Some days following the promptings of God is easy but other days it’s difficult. When I let worries, or life get in the way, or sometimes my own stubbornness and laziness, following the promptings of God can be more difficult. This year I’m a little more excited than usual about Lent. Since hearing Mary’s talk on Lent and participating in Symbolon with Deacon Ralph, I actually made a plan for Lent this year. My plan as well as my husband’s is for more prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I know that it won’t be perfect and I know at times I may very well fail, but I’m determined to try. I hope to look back on Lent and say I developed new habits that will increase my faith and hopefully carry on into ordinary time.

    • Mary French

      I am so happy to hear this Debbie!! I wasn’t kidding when I said that I actually get excited for Lent. We aren’t even a week in and I have already ‘failed’, more than once! But my attitude is adjusted and I can appreciate that I am trying to break bad habits and add new (good) virtuous ones, and that it isn’t easy. We so readily slip into our old routines when we are distracted and on auto-pilot. So rather than focusing on passing or failing, I am looking at each day as a big MULLIGAN (do-over opportunity) in order to correct the mistakes of the day, or DAYS, before! Lent is my ‘training period’.