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The Key to Living a Holy Life

The Key to Living a Holy Life

The name of my blog sometimes frightens me because I fear I’ve set myself up as someone who knows how to be holy or who knows how to give advice on how to live a holy life. Neither of those are true! The truth is that I don’t believe I’m holy or that I have the best advice for living a holy life. However, I believe that my deepest desire is to be holy and that on my best days I aspire to live in union with Jesus. And because I’m a pilgrim on the journey of life like all of you, my dear readers, I like to share my thoughts on how we can together aspire to friendship with Jesus.

In my almost fourteen years as a priest, I’ve spent countless hours in the confessional and counseling people in so many different situations. Those hours are some of the most fulfilling hours of my life. I’ve learned many things during those countless hours. But there’s a simple piece of advice that I like to give over and over again. It’s a piece of advice that I give because it’s one that I try to live on a daily basis. This piece of advice, I believe, is the key to living a holy life. What is it? Two words: Begin again.

PoVodam1888JesusChristWalkingOnWaterSavesPeter for post on the key to living a holy lifeThat’s it in a nutshell. I believe the key to living a holy life is the decision to begin again and again with Jesus each day. We’re weak. We’re tempted. We sin. But God’s grace and mercy is greater than our sin. And so we have two choices: we can choose to focus on our temptations and sins or we can choose to focus on Jesus and begin again each day with his love and grace. If we focus on our weaknesses, there’s little chance that we’ll make progress on the road to holiness; however, if we focus on Jesus and decide to begin again each day, he will strengthen us in perseverance and enable us to grow in virtue.

I love the gospel scene where Peter steps out of the boat to walk toward Jesus who is walking on the water. It perfectly sums up the spiritual life: Distracted by the winds and waves, Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins to sink; but Peter reaches out to Jesus and begs Jesus to save him. What a great lesson! In the winds and waves of life, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. And when we feel we can’t go on, we simply need to imitate Peter, stretch out our hand, and beg Jesus to save us.

So forget about yesterday or about the mistakes you made today, and simply choose to begin again. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Take his hand and let him lead you.

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This post originally appeared on Father Michael Najim's blog Used with permission.

Art: Po VodamWalking on Water, Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Michael Najim

Fr. Michael Najim is a priest of the Diocese of Providence. He is Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, Rhode Island and has been the Director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Chaplain of LaSalle Academy, a coed Catholic high school in Providence, RI. He is the author of Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians, published by the Institute for Priestly Formation. He also blogs at Fr. Michael Najim's Blog.

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  • Thank you so much, Father Michael Najim! I am grateful to you for sharing the way and the truth to holiness and to begin again this beautiful and wonderful day that God gave us all! Take my hand God and lead my way. Amen

  • Melinda

    Glory be to God! Fr. Najim, God answered, through your writing, a prayer I prayed to Him at 1 a.m. this morning. I desire so much to give up sugar for lent. Keeping it at no higher than 15g a day or lower. I have been preparing for lent for months. On Feb 1st, I began to prepare for fasting and to drop the sugar to 15g. I failed yesterday. I choose to begin again holding our Lord’s hand!! This post is like reading a note from Jesus saying, begin again!! 🙂

    • Patricia

      Hope this helps 🙂
      The 7-Step Sugar Addicts Guide to Overcoming Sugar Addiction

      1. Admit that you’re a sugar addict. Just like with any addiction, the first step in overcoming sugar addiction is to accept that you’re an addict and understand the consequences. Sugar addiction can cause:

      Weight gain from eating more fattening food to get your sugar-fix.
      High triglycerides, increasing your risk of heart disease.
      Tooth decay from excessive bacterial growth.
      Metabolic syndrome, leading to diabetes.
      Poor nutrition from empty calories.
      Lack of immunity to disease.
      Periods of depression.
      2. Know the benefits of a sugar-free life. Besides reversing all the drawbacks listed above, overcoming sugar addiction helps you lose weight, greatly improve your health, energy and endurance – both now and in the future – and makes you look and feel younger and healthier.

      3. Become a “hidden sugar” detective. Sugar is hiding everywhere. Don’t stick your head in the sugar bowl or get blind-sided by sweet temptation. Know all the different sugar names and choose healthy low glycemic foods from the glycemic foods index to keep blood sugar stable.

      4. Extract your sweet tooth – cold turkey. Sugar is too addictive to wean yourself slowly. Plan ahead, clean out your pantry and take some time off for withdrawal symptoms to pass. Look for new ways to comfort yourself – like a warm bath and good book.

      5. Learn to love nature’s natural sweeteners. Once you get through the first few days, fruits and other natural foods will start tasting sweeter. Stevia, a naturally sweet herb, can help sweeten food and drinks, but don’t go overboard. Your objective is to reduce your taste for super sweet foods and excess use of artificial sweeteners only keeps mental cravings alive.

      6. Make friends with naturally sweet people. If you were a recovering alcoholic, you wouldn’t hang out in bars with drunks. So make friends who support your sugar-free lifestyle. When eating out, break whole grain bread with wholesome people and choose tasty sugar-free foods.

      7. Clean sugar out of your body and mind. It takes 3 to 7 days to overcome the physical addiction. But overcoming emotional attachments to sweet comfort foods could take longer. Here are some guidelines.

      Use the low glycemic diet and list of glycemic foods to help you choose healthier, more appropriate comfort foods to sooth cravings.
      Eat smaller meals 5 or 6 times a day. Don’t get hungry. Have protein with every meal or snack to keep your blood sugar stable.
      Drink plenty of water to help wash out sugar and toxins.
      Make overcoming sugar addiction you’re main focus. Don’t start a new diet or exercise program while still going through sugar withdrawal. Weight loss is usually a natural result of giving up sugar.
      If you slip up, forgive yourself, have some protein to stabilize your blood sugar, brush your teeth, drink a cup of mint tea, take a walk or do whatever it takes to get back on track in a sugar-free groove.

      • Melinda

        Thank you, Patricia! 🙂

  • Patty

    Thank You father.

  • Judy Silhan

    Begin again is a great way to deal with my struggle for spiritual perfection. The idea to start over and trust Jesus has worked also with weight loss efforts. Losing a large amount of weight, 107 lbs., can be daunting; but when I made poor choices, I started over the next day and said to Jesus, help me. I trust in You. Thanks, Fr. Najim for your reflection.

  • charles

    Absolutely inspiring love it

  • Patricia

    With all due respect, the Ordained Priests of the Catholic Church, and all of us have been given very specific information about the universal call to holiness, given to us by Jesus, Himself through His Grace, the Sacraments, the Gospels, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Granted we are not saints yet and so we are called daily and minute by minute actually, to constantly be renewed in our efforts to be growing more and more committed to holiness. If we fall, we need to get up and and keep on moving in the direction of holiness. For those who may not have ever seen Lumen Gentium describing the universal call to holiness for us all, not just priests and religious, there is short excerpt below which addresses this issue specifically, if you wish to read a few paragraphs. the whole of is is available online.

    Once again, this is really long, Patricia. Please re-read our FAQ (frequently asked questions). You may cite the Vatican source, rather than copy it. It is sufficient.

    • Patricia

      Ok, how about this one paragraph? 🙂 The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live “as becomes saints”,(219) and to put on “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience”,(220) and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.(221) Since truly we all offend in many things (222) we all need God’s mercies continually and we all must daily pray: “Forgive us our debts”(223)(3*)

      • LizEst

        Much better…thanks Patricia. God bless you!

      • Clanci45

        I am totally lost. I don’t really understand the point…I see LixEst writes Much better, but I don’t know much better than what? Than the article itself? Or the explanation? I am trying to learn but am new and do not understand.

        • LizEst

          Clanci — I wrote “Much better” because what Patricia initially posted was very long. And, we have asked our commenters not to post exceedingly long comments (as we’ve explained in our FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions). She summarized what she had originally posted so that it was not so long. And, therefore, it was a much better posting than she had originally posted, and it was in keeping with our posting guidelines. Hope that helps…and God bless you!

          • Clanci45

            Thank you so much. I was not sure if this was a disagreement with the article or exactly what it meant.

          • LizEst

            Quite welcome!

  • Mark K

    I can appreciate the analogy. If a righteous man can fall 7 times a day how much more we need the infinate mercy of Jesus. Let us begin again and live in the present.

  • Patti Day

    Father, Your words were just what I needed this morning, a gentle reminder that when I fall, it isn’t the end of everything, but another opportunity to begin again, like the woman in the crowd who suffered from hemorrhage for twelve years. Her faith caused her to reach out to touch the perfection of Our Lord and she was rewarded by being healed.

  • Noreen Minifie

    this is absolutely wonderful my challenge is always to get up after a stumble or fall…with God’s grace I amage to do so and have the confidence that in Jesus I can truly begin again no matter how many times and it gives me ghreat hope than you Father!


    This is so true. Keep your eye on Jesus, surrender completely to him. There is a wonderful novena by Fr. Dolindo Ruotulo Jesus give to him. Goolge his name you will find it. I say the surrender novena most everyday now.

  • Fr. Michael Najim

    Thanks for your comments all!

  • Sista T

    Amen! Well said

  • Sista T

    I was reflexing on this very scene of Jesus walking on the Water and Peter, and what Jesus said to Him, Why did you doubt? This came to me when I was reading the post proir about the study of virtues. Faith in God, calls us out upon the waters of life the storms of life that make us fear, Fear not saith The Lord for I am with you!

  • Lisa

    Love this! I needed this reminder, and will start to begin again and look to Jesus, instead of what is going on around me. Great article! Thank you. 🙂

  • What an opportune advice. I went to bed and woke up this morning feeling very bad, having been reminded of my not so nice side of me. Thank you, Fr. Michael for advising me not to dwell on what I did yesterday but to resolve to start again by first reaching out to the outstretched Divine Hand of Jesus and accepting His forgiveness and His Grace to see me through to-day

  • Navymum

    Thank you, Father! I am going to write “Begin Again” on a piece of paper and put it on my mirror so it is the first thing I see as I brush my teeth every morning. It will be my motto for Lent and I am going to share it with all the classes I teach at our Parish. Thank you!!! And God bless your work to help Him save souls.

  • MaryofSharon

    Excellent counsel, Father, and it looks like you are in good company. “Begin Again” was also the guiding principle offered by Venerable Bruno Lanteri, the founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, of which Fr. Timothy Gallagher is a member. Fr. Gallagher has recently written a book entitled “Begin Again: The Life and Spiritual Legacy of Bruno Lanteri” and has recently begun a series of talks on the same subject available at Discerning Hearts: .

  • Angelito Esguerra

    Thank you … a sign of relief..

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