Holiness for Everyone
Author outlines the “universal call to holiness” in new book
With the Synod on the New Evangelization leading into the Year of Faith this October, it is a good time to consider your place in the plan Pope Benedict XVI has set for the Church. According to Eric Sammons, the key is holiness pursued in a daily, practical way.
In his book Holiness for Everyone: The Practical Spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva, Sammons approaches the topic from the writings and teachings of the founder of Opus Dei. With a Foreword by Scott Hahn, an Opus Dei member, the book provides a user-friendly guide on what holiness is and is not for the layperson, and how to work toward sanctity with God’s grace from day to day.
Married and the father of six children, Sammons is Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice, Florida. Fathers for Good asked him a few questions about his book.
Fathers for Good: Fifty years ago the Second Vatican Council proclaimed the “Universal Call to Holiness” yet it always sounds like a new idea. Why is that?
Eric Sammons: Human nature. We have a natural tendency to set apart the exceptional: movie stars, sports stars, etc. We say, “I could never do that!” And in most cases, that is true. But when it comes to sanctity, that is not the case, because every one of us has God in our corner, doing everything he can to help us become saints. So when we look at a St. Francis or a Mother Teresa, we shouldn’t say, “I could never do that!”, but instead, “God wants to help me do that!” Of course, the path to sanctity will be different for each person – some will be more contemplative, some more active, some are called to religious life, others to secular pursuits – but in every case the end goal – holiness – is achievable by everyone.
Fathers for Good: This book focuses on St. Josemaría Escrivá and his style of spirituality. Is this only for Opus Dei members or for all?
Sammons: It is truly for everyone. The genius of St. Josemaría Escrivá is that he focused on striving for holiness in ordinary life, so his spirituality is not restricted to only a certain subset of humanity. Furthermore, his advice is very practical, so it can be applied in any state of life. St. Josemaría’s logic was really quite simple: most people spend most of their time in “secular” pursuits – working, taking care of kids, spending time with friends – so wouldn’t God want us to use those pursuits to draw close to him? After all, Scripture says that “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). St. Josemaría took literally the “everything” part of that passage.
Fathers for Good: Are you a member of Opus Dei? What’s your background for writing this book?
Sammons: Actually, I’m not a member of Opus Dei. It was my own experience that led me to write this book. I was struggling with balancing my work and family life with my spiritual life. I felt that time spent at my office desk was time away from growing in holiness. It was during this time that someone recommended that I read St. Josemaría’s writings. They were truly revolutionary for me: I came to realize that there is no “balance” – everything I do can be used to grow in holiness! I make my office desk an “altar” for my offering to God of my life and my work. Since then I’ve attended various Opus Dei spiritual activities, but I’ve never felt called to be a member. And Opus Dei would be the first to say that is fine: being a member of Opus Dei is a specific calling and is not for everyone. But being holy is for everyone.
As far as my background, I worked for over 15 years in software development, including running my own company for 10 years. Just last summer, after obtaining a master’s degree in Theology, I became the Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice in Florida. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and six beautiful children.
Fathers for Good: What is one idea everyone should take from the book?
Sammons: That holiness is really, truly possible for each and every person, no matter their state in life. God wants, more than anything, for us to be like him – holy – and he will help us in every way possible to achieve sanctity. What we need is a plan – one that allows us to direct all the aspects of our day-to-day lives toward growth in holiness. St. Josemaría developed the framework of a plan for holiness for everyday people. Holiness for Everyone will help you put it in place in your life. With God’s help you can then achieve the goal for your life that he intends: your sanctification (cf. 1 Thess 4:3).
For more information, visit: EricSammons.com.