This small book on holiness by the British Benedictine Hubert Van Zeller (1905-84) is as valuable as his other small book on suffering. It is a short book-- so a long review is not the proper approach to it. I will just highlight two points made by Zeller that seem to escape most of us when we think of holiness. First of all, what exactly is holiness? After reading this book, I would define it as glorifying God by submitting to God's will. As a modern, of course, the question then arises: why should we submit to God? If God is our creator, it seems obvious. But the Christian has a more powerful and persuasive reason than the run-of-the-mill monotheist for submitting to God's will: God's will is to love us, to be kind to us, and to show mercy to us in all aspects of our lives. In other words, it is God's will that we be truly happy. Holiness is being happy, and being happy is only found in submitting to God's will. Other readers will phrase what they get from Zeller's book differently; but that is my take, so to speak.
Two other biblical points about holiness raised by Zeller are worth repeating here. First, holiness is marked by joy and cheerfulness. Zeller asks how "could a person who trusted completely in the mercy of God, who looked forward to Heaven, who saw the whole world and all the people in it as coming from the love of God, not be cheerful?" (p. 81). This joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Holiness must also mean that we are breathing in the Holy Spirit. Joy is the greatest evangelizer there is. Second, holiness of life means that we are rewarded not just in Heaven but also in this life: "The kingdom of Heaven must lead to happiness, and if this kingdom is within us, we have already gotten what the world is looking for" (p. 87). We too often disbelieve what Zeller is saying here, but it is in a Bible verse that Zeller cites and that we often seem to overlook: Matthew 19:29. But I think the slightly different parallel verse in Luke brings out better the point Zeller is trying to make: "He said to them, 'In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much in this present age and, in the world to come, eternal life' " (Lk 18:29-30, New Jerusalem Bible; emphasis added). Holiness rewards us in this life also, not just in the next life.
The reader will find that this short book is quickly read but deep in its insights.