Last week I was invited to participate in a meeting entitled, “The way to Holiness.”
Several people intervened and many different documents were read. During the different interventions I heard many words being mentioned such as “faithfulness,” “purity,” “prayer,” and “perseverance.” Nevertheless, I felt somehow “cheated” because the most important word when it comes to Holiness was never mentioned: “weakness.”
I used the word “cheated” on purpose because I have often experienced that even within the Church we are not faithful to the authentic novelty of the Christian message, which is the gratitude for the Love of God. Too many times I have had the impression that the message we portray is along these lines: “Try, and try again, try harder…” or the famous saying: “God helps those who help themselves” …and I say: What about those who cannot help themselves? What about those who have been trying and trying and never manage to change? What about when a Saint of the caliber of St. Paul says: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out,” (Romans 7:15) which is to say, “I know what is good, but I cannot help myself, as much as I try, I cannot do it.”
If we lose sight of Christian Anthropology, which is, if we lose sight of our nature wounded by sin and by default inclined to evil, we lose sight of the mystery of condemnation and consequently we will never experience the mystery of Salvation! We can never experience being saved by Jesus Christ! Again, St. Paul articulates this reality beautifully: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:21-24)
The way to Holiness starts exactly from here: in the recognition of being poor, fragile, weak, and unable to follow God’s law. This is why Christ, in the Gospel of Matthew, starts his public mission with the famous words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) The “poor in spirit” are those who know they need help otherwise they are doomed. You see how deeply Christ knows our nature! How many youths would like to be happy, but they find themselves stuck in drugs, alcohol, or anger against their parents! They, to use St. Paul’s language, would like to do good, but instead do the very thing they hate. How many times in a marriage would spouses like to love each other and forgive each other, but they find themselves unable to do it! How many divorces because of this! This is our wounded nature enslaved by sin! But, as St. Paul says: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 7:25)
Christianity is the announcement of Grace! In my personal life, the entrance door to the life of God has been in my mistakes, because through them I got to know the mercy of God; in my worries and fears, because through them I saw the Providence of God; and, in my suffering and humiliation, because through them I saw the Glorious Cross of Christ!
There is a space between my desire to do good and my impossibility to do it. This space is where God acts making possible what is impossible for me. This space is called “weakness.” This space is where the holiness of God becomes visible. This place is where the Saints dwell…are you weak enough to be a Saint?
My name is Andrea Povero. I was born in a town called Ivrea, close to Turin, Italy.
I am almost 35 years old and I am the last one of 4 children.
When I decided to enter the seminary, I chose to enter into a “missionary seminary.” I went to a retreat close to Rome and there, together with 300 young men, I put my name into a basket. In another basket were the names of the all the missionary seminaries around the world. When my name was pulled from one basket, it was matched with the name “Boston” from the other basket.
I was sent to Boston in November 2007. I became a priest by the grace of God on May 19, 2018.
For the past three years I have been the Parochial Vicar of three parishes: St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain and Saint Mary of the Angels in Roxbury.