I think piety has gotten a bad rap these days. Society has a certain averse reaction to people who devoutly choose to act differently than the rest of the world. It makes it difficult for others to be courageous and imitate piety themselves, even if they are attracted to it internally.
For me, I honestly just dislike vulnerable moments. Unfortunately, that's about 98% of what happens in life, so I personally live in a state of constant decision ‐ to be vulnerable or not to be! (There is only slight exaggeration here...) But have you ever experienced that moment in which you're terrified to make the sign of the cross in a restaurant and say grace before your meal? To initiate prayer with your family? To ask someone if they want prayer? To stay a few minutes after Mass to pray privately? To switch the radio station when you're driving with your friends?
Personally, I found these things much harder when I was first building a relationship with Jesus. I can't say that there was some life‐changing moment in which I suddenly had a great relationship with God, but I do remember gradually not caring what others thought. I think God was slowly working in me, gently bringing me closer to Him until the foundation was so strong that I couldn't deny that part of my life.
This often happens in our human relationships too, right? Sometimes we don't tell a whole lot of people that we started dating someone. Maybe it's only been a couple dates, and what if it doesn't work out? Why would I want everyone to know? Eventually we grow with the other person, grow in friendship and love, and become more comfortable with this new part of our life.
According to Pope Francis,
“It is this loving relationship which grounds and perfects our authentic worship of God. It's synonymous for friendship with God; that friendship into which Jesus introduces us, and that changes our lives and fills our souls with joy and peace.”
This is the gift of piety ‐ the authentic love and worship of God that fills us with joy and peace.
Why would we not want to be filled with the One who gives us joy and peace? It's no wonder we see the lady in church spending every moment she can with the Lord, or the mother praying with her children before bed. It's also no wonder why this often makes society so uncomfortable ‐ there is a peacefulness, simplicity, and trustworthiness that we are just not used to in the world.
It beckons us to recognize that something greater does exist which is worthy of our affection. And sometimes we are forced to admit ‐ even if just for a moment ‐ that we may not be seeking the most important things in life.
So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this gift also. Ask him to fill our entire hearts ‐ even the darkest places we don't let others see ‐ and to bring light, joy, and courage.
Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my heart, that I may see the things that are of God.
Come Holy Spirit, into my mind that I may know the things that are of God.
Come Holy Spirit, into my soul, that I may belong only to God.
Sanctify all that I think, say, and do, that all may be for the glory of God.