Dr. Tobias Nathe, Director of the St. James Project and Assistant Professor of Systematic and Moral Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, spoke on “Five Paths to (Lay) Holiness,” for Theology on Tap at The Oregon Express in Dayton, OH on Thursday, October 17. What follows is the transcript on which the talk was based.
1. General Disposition: This begins with our attitude. For a person seeking holiness it’s going to have to be based in wonder and gratitude for the marvels the Lord has wrought.
Saints are joyful people, open in the face with big smiles and kind, often deep and beautiful eyes. Their whole persona has taken on a certain light as well as levity, a weightlessness, even if they are bedridden. You can see Christ in them. So our disposition has to be a childlike wonder at the things around us which God has made including especially what he has fashioned in others. Think Pope Francis. If you took a mug shot of Francis and put it alongside that of a criminal you would see the difference etched in their respective faces. Holiness is tangible and real—it’s an ontological thing. It affects our whole being.
Our disposition also has to be one of gratitude for whatever comes our way, including of course the many sufferings and crosses we bear. We give thanks to God no matter the circumstance. Not that I’m holy, but I can give you a small example of the difference the practice of thanksgiving has made in my life. Just practicing giving thanks no matter what, has meant that when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and stub my toe on a piece of furniture, I automatically say “thank you Lord” without thinking about it. It’s an automatic response to something I would have cursed at before my reversion to the faith. This sort of thing isn’t always easy, of course, but the more we make a practice of giving thanks, the easier it will be. It’s a way to respond to difficulties in life which will please the Lord and make our suffering an efficacious prayer for others.
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