Not to put down a well-known, oft-quoted phrase attributed to Benjamin Franklin -- 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise' -- but for the purposes of this article on goodness, let us momentarily replace the word ‘early’ with 'oily'.
Goodness - we all want to be good. Some people interpret being good with attaining the praise of others; by fitting themselves into whatever is considered 'in'. They 'follow the crowd' ideology, i.e., being popular!
Consider the idea that goodness does not need to be surrounded by a crowd. Remember our good Lord and Savior hanging on the cross. At the foot of that cross were only His Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleofas and His beloved Apostle John. His words, spoken in agonizing pain from the cross, were 'Father, why have you abandoned me?' These words were His human nature talking (His flesh). He knew well that He and His Father were forever a team in His Divine nature, always united by a Holy Spirit.
Authentic goodness does not require us to be surrounded by crowds, or have a successful career, or drive expensive cars, or live in luxury homes (though, having such blessings is not wrong either). The point is, authentic goodness does not need to be surrounded by these things. Goodness is found in Godliness, which shows itself in the ‘fruit’ or virtues as described in Galatians, chapter 5. These virtues develop over a lifetime of living in faith; of the sanctifying graces established by Christ, called in name 'Sacraments'.
Being 'good' requires us to 'pick up the cross' of life - those trials and tribulations that come with saying 'Yes' to following our Lord and Savior. The cross, composed of both horizontal and vertical beams, represent both our relationships with other humans (horizontal beam) and our faith relationship with God (vertical beam).
To effectively carry the cross in the Christian life requires habitual use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession); the Sacrament of Penance to show the amending of our old ways of thinking and doing; Holy Mass Communion; daily prayer (morning and evening); and meditation on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the Holy Rosary. With the sanctifying grace of Christ's presence dwelling us and fully believing it, we can better handle that heavier horizontal beam.
When we receive these sanctifying graces and sacraments, we put oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) into our figurative lamps to fuel us. We go 'oily' to bed, and we rise 'oily' to begin a new day. We become so oily, we easily slip from Satan's grasp!
Do not be like those 'foolish virgins' (Matthew, 25:4) who allowed their oil to run out of their lamp, and were thus unprepared when their bridegroom appeared. This parable is a reference to God's Son, our Savior, who at a day and hour only God knows, comes like a thief in the night to take us with Him to Heaven.
Those who dismiss sacramental practices for a 'personal relationship' with Christ might actually be saying 'no' to Religion, which brings one to grow in the grace of Christ's presence. Perhaps they are as those 'happy' souls, found at 'happy hours', being affirmed by others for all they do for others. However, missing in those 'happy hours' might be authentic worship - the praise, petition and thanksgiving to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Missing in those proclaiming a 'personal relationship' might be the Acts of Faith in what Jesus Christ said to do. Bringing self to altar, presenting our good acts quietly and daily in union with Christ's supreme sacrifice on the cross.
Doing as Christ taught us provides the transformation to a holy oneness with Christ. Picture a small son imitating his father's work, mowing the lawn with a plastic bubble lawnmower; or the daughter with a 'mini kitchen' imitating her mother cooking in the kitchen. The children's work doesn't replace Mom or Dad's work; however, by imitating their parents, they grow in understanding and appreciation of their parents' work. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass raises up 'the little good' we do each week, in union with Christ's supreme sacrifice.
'Authentic good' is praying as one holy family 'in Christ' on earth, with no need to quibble, quarrel, or debate with those of another mindset.
Being 'good' does not need to be surrounded by a crowd. It is about the daily disciplined duties of caring for family, working in the community and using one's abilities to make life a bit better for others.
But what job shall we do? The options are as limitless as the omnipresent God, who directs the steps of those who place faith in those sanctifying graces of the One, Holy, Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
By faith, grace, and the work we do 'in Him,' we rise in the spirit and soul of Christ and are embodied with Him in heaven. The work of salvation is a lifetime process! The Acts of Faith may or may not change those we would like to see changed, we may not get to see them change their ways, but we who in faith are part of Christ's holy family are being changed and sanctified.
Keep the faith in the way of God!